The next day blacks were still second-class citizens. Civil rights activists were still in Southern jails. The president's civil rights legislation faced almost certain defeat in the Congress.
But something was different.
Lewis said, "There was so much hope, so much optimism, and I think those of us who had been involved went back to the South much more determined."
But that hope and that sense of optimism was shattered 18 days later, on the morning of Sept. 16, when a bomb went off at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Four little girls were killed.
The bombing was a grim omen of the brutal years still ahead. President Kennedy was assassinated. The slayings of Malcolm X., Robert Kennedy, and of course, King himself, followed.
But what King said on that bright August day has continued to redefine America.
In its own way, King's speech on the Washington Mall was as important for America in the 1960s as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was to the 1860s and as both are to the America in which we live today.