Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Often during the very cold nights I have gone into the rooms of these students at midnight to see how they were getting along, and have found them sitting up by the fire, with blankets wrapped about them, as the only method of keeping warm. Still, notwithstanding these inconveniences and hardships, I think I never heard a complaint from the lips of a single student. They always seemed filled with gratitude for the opportunity to go to school under any circumstances. . .
After a few months had passed, I wrote Gen. J. F. B. Marshall, at that time treasurer of the Hampton Institute, and put our condition before him, telling him that there was an abandoned farm about a mile from the town of Tuskegee in the market which I could secure at a very cheap price for our institution. As I had absolutely no money with which to make the first payment on the farm, I summoned the courage to ask Gen. Marshall to lend me $500 with which to make the first payment. To my surprise a letter came back in a few days enclosing a check for $500. A contract was made for the purchase of the farm, which at that time consisted of 100 acres. Subsequent purchases and gifts of adjacent lands have increased the number of acres at this place to 700, and this is the present site of the Tuskegee Institute. . .
When I reached Tuskegee, the only thing that had been done toward the starting of a school was the securing of the $2,000. There was no land, building, or apparatus. I opened the school, however, on the 4th of July, 1881, in an old church and a little shanty that was almost ready to fall down from decay. On the first day there was an attendance of thirty students, mainly those who had been engaged in teaching in the Public schools of that vicinity. . .