“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength,

the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”


~ Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)








I have a Dream Essay Assignment: "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)"




“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”


~ Mark Twain (1835-1910) 




Directions: Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs, and a conclusion. When writing a DBQ, it is best to devote one paragraph for each document and be sure to identify the document at the beginning of each paragraph. Use evidence and citations from the document(s) and media in the body of the essay. Support your response with relevant facts, examples, and details. Be sure to include additional outside information and related concept words.



In the film, The Pursuit of Happyness the character Chris Gardner (Will Smith) tells his son, “…don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something…not even me.” Read the Mark Twain quote above and the excerpt below. Write an essay in which you discuss the importance and significance of dreams and perseverance throughout our nation’s history. In your essay, explain the meaning and purpose of the excerpt taken from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have A Dream speech. Be sure to clearly identify and fully discuss the “dream” that is expressed in the excerpt as well as the social and political conditions or circumstances that existed at the time the speech was given. You must also discuss the meaning of the song, The Impossible Dream and explain the quote by Mark Twain. Finally, discuss the film, and any lessons viewers can learn about the importance of perseverance and how it relates to the achievement of personal goals and dreams. Be sure to include and fully discuss specific examples from each document/media along with additional examples and outside information.



“...Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.


In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

…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."… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…”  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~ August 28, 1963  I Have A Dream



"The Impossible Dream (The Quest)"

music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion ©1965




To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go


To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star


This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far


To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause


And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest


And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star






“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”


~ Jacob Riis (1849 – 1914)





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