Whether they are delivered by activists, environmentalists, educators, politicians, or presidents, speeches can significantly impact society. Throughout history, we’ve witnessed some that have caught the attention of thousands/millions and compelled them to pursue a specific action. Here are 8 famous speeches that will never be forgotten.

1. I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King

At the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28, 1963, a young African-American man, Martin Luther King, delivered one of the most iconic speeches of all time. Titled “I Have a Dream,” Martin shared his vision for America with the world.

His speech envisioned a period when white and black children would become one and live as brothers and sisters. It also revolved around freedom for the African-American community. The “I Have a Dream” became famous because it was delivered at a time when the black community faced a lot of criticism and discrimination from white supremacists. It became even more popular when Barack Obama became the president of the United States in 2009.

2. Tilbury Speech by Queen Elizabeth I

One of Queen Elizabeth I’s strongest traits was her ability to use language to persuade the masses. For instance, on August 9, 1588, when the Spanish Armada threatened England with invasion and war, the monarch delivered the Tilbury speech to the English forces.

Her strong speech encouraged the English troops to stand their ground and not fear the Spanish Armada. She also hinted at her underdog status, explaining that even though she is a feeble and physically weak woman, she has the stomach and heart of a king. Therefore, she was not afraid of any European prince.

3. Ain’t I A Woman by Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth did not have it easy growing up. She was born into slavery and lived during an era when women’s rights were completely disregarded. Sojourner Truth ran away from her slave master after he refused to free her when the New York Anti-Slavery Law was upheld. After acquiring freedom, she became a leader of the anti-slavery movement and fought fiercely against women’s oppression.

In 1851, she was invited to the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. There, she delivered the famous speech, Ain’t I a Woman. Here, she narrates how different her life has been from other privileged women’s. It was extremely emotional as she told how she had worked in plantations and given birth to children who were sold into slavery.

4. The Finest Hour Speech by Winston Churchill

In 1940, Britain found itself in an uncompromisable position. All of its allies which included France, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark, had fallen from the Nazi invasion. Britain was the only one left fighting Hitler’s control of Europe.

During this period, Winston Churchill delivered the “Finest Hour” speech in the House of Commons. Its goal was to encourage the British troops to keep fighting even though they were significantly affected by World War II. Before the Finest Hour, Churchill delivered two other powerful speeches: Never Surrender and Nothing To Offer but Blood, Toil, Sweat and Tears. These were aimed at preparing Britain for what was to come.

5. I Am Prepared to Die by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a historical figure whose achievements will never be forgotten. In an era where South Africa was being ravaged by apartheid, Mandela delivered a three-hour long speech on April 20, 1964, during the Rivonia Trial.

It was titled I am Prepared To Die because those were his final words. In his speech, the fearless Mandela talked about how whites were afraid of democracy because the Africans had more numbers when it came to voting. He also mentioned the numerous efforts the ANC had made in fighting against racism.

6. Quit India by Mahatma Gandhi

There was something special about Mahatma Gandhi’s speeches; he always advocated for a non-violent approach in the fight for India’s democracy. He was a beacon of hope amongst the many Indians yearning for freedom from colonization.

In one of his many famous speeches, “Quit India,” delivered on August 8, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi starts by saying that India will be freed or they will die trying. He talks about the benefits of freedom and encourages his audience that it is not for the faint-hearted. The revolutionist also integrated some aspects of religion into this speech.

7. Woman’s Right to the Suffrage by Susan B Anthony

There are two main things Susan B Anthony is celebrated for: voting illegally during the 1872 presidential election and refusing to pay the $100 fine and her immense contribution to fighting for women’s right to vote.

Only men were allowed to vote in the United States a while back. Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other female activists formed the National Woman Suffrage Association to fight against these and many different forms of women’s oppression.

One of the iconic speeches she delivered was the Woman’s Right to Suffrage. Here, she talked about how undemocratic it was for sex to be used as a qualification. She dived deeply into the oligarchs of sex and how unfair it was.

8. The Last Word of Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was an openly gay American politician in the 1970s. During this period, homophobia was at an all-time high, and so he had a huge target on his back. What makes this speech so inspirational is the fact that Harvey Milk predicted his assassination.

On November 18, 1978, Harvey Milk recorded a tape and asked that it be released if he was killed by an assassin. In the videotape, Harvey Milk encourages all gay activists not to demonstrate but to use their anger and frustration to fight for the gay movement.

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General Knowledge, History,

Last Update: June 17, 2024