It was actually around 17 minutes long.
For the most part today, we, and more irresponsibly children, are only exposed to the same sliced and diced 30 second snippet, his "I have a dream..." section.
MLK’s remarks at the March on Washington for Jobs (the jobs part is often left out of the discussion) and Freedom on August 28, 1963 is commonly heralded as perhaps the finest speech ever given. What many people don’t know, is that, in front of 250,0oo people gathered on the Washington Mall, Dr. King went off script with about 5 minutes to go and largely improvised the “I have a dream…” portion. It was inspired by excerpts of sermons he’d done in the past and conversations he’d had with close friends. He was prodded to ad lib by the growing energy from the crowd and the urging of gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who was on the dais behind him, pleading, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”
The most well-known part of one of the most well-know speeches, ever, was improvised.
Some time today, I encourage you to watch the whole thing. Notice how he stops looking down at his notes during the “dream” portion, and transforms into “preach mode”. It’s exciting to watch, even after all these years; and as appropriate, as ever, given the events of the past several months...heck...several days.