The phrase ‘let freedom ring’ evokes powerful emotions in many Americans. It’s most famously associated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, in which he repeatedly implores us to ‘let freedom ring.’ But what exactly does this iconic phrase mean?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: ‘Let freedom ring’ is a call to actively promote and achieve freedom, justice, and equality for all people. It reflects the notion that freedom is an ongoing struggle that requires constant vigilance.

In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the origins, history, and significance of ‘let freedom ring.’ We’ll look at how Dr. King and other leaders have used this phrase to inspire social change. We’ll also discuss what ‘let freedom ring’ means in today’s world and how we can continue striving for the ideals it represents.

The Origins and Early Uses of ‘Let Freedom Ring’

Derived from America’s Freedom Bell

The phrase “Let Freedom Ring” has its roots in the iconic Liberty Bell, which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Liberty Bell, also known as the Freedom Bell, is a symbol of American independence and freedom.

The bell was originally cast in 1752 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges. It gained its famous crack in 1846 and has since become a powerful symbol of the fight for liberty.

As the Liberty Bell became increasingly associated with the concept of freedom, the phrase “Let Freedom Ring” emerged as a way to express the desire for liberty and justice for all. It encapsulates the idea that freedom should prevail and resonate throughout the land, just as the ringing of a bell can be heard far and wide.

First Used by Philadelphia Pastor in the 1800s

The first recorded use of the phrase “Let Freedom Ring” in a public speech can be traced back to the 1800s. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is often credited with popularizing the phrase in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

However, the phrase predates Dr. King’s use of it by many decades.

One of the earliest documented instances of the phrase being used in a sermon was by Reverend Henry Highland Garnet, an African American abolitionist and pastor in Philadelphia. In 1843, Garnet delivered a sermon titled “Address to the Slaves of the United States” in which he passionately declared, “Brethren, let your motto be resistance!

Resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestions of expediency.

Brethren, I do not say, let your resistance be such as to involve you in blood, but let it be an uncompromising resistance.”

Repeated in Songs and Speeches Over the Years

Since its early usage, the phrase “Let Freedom Ring” has been echoed in numerous songs, speeches, and writings throughout American history. It has become a rallying cry for those striving for equality, justice, and the preservation of individual liberties.

The phrase has been incorporated into patriotic songs, such as “America the Beautiful” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” further solidifying its place in the American consciousness.

Over the years, “Let Freedom Ring” has been used by various civil rights activists, politicians, and social justice advocates to emphasize the importance of freedom and equality for all people. Its enduring presence in these speeches and songs serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight for justice and the continuous pursuit of a more inclusive society.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Usage in ‘I Have a Dream’

One of the most iconic and memorable speeches in American history is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech was delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Dr. King’s usage of the phrase “let freedom ring” became a powerful and enduring symbol of the Civil Rights Movement.

King’s Repetition at the March on Washington

During his speech, Dr. King repeated the phrase “let freedom ring” several times, emphasizing the importance of equality and justice for all Americans. His repetition created a rhythmic and impactful effect, captivating the audience and leaving a lasting impression.

The phrase became a rallying cry for those fighting against racial discrimination and inequality.

Answering the ‘Call of Freedom’

By using the phrase “let freedom ring,” Dr. King was calling upon the nation to fulfill its promise of freedom and equality for every citizen, regardless of their race or background. He believed that it was essential for all Americans to answer this “call of freedom” and work towards creating a just society where everyone could live without fear or oppression.

Inspiring the Civil Rights Movement

Dr. King’s usage of “let freedom ring” in his “I Have a Dream” speech inspired and galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. It became a powerful slogan that encapsulated the aspirations and dreams of millions of African Americans and their allies.

Dr. King’s words, along with his unwavering dedication to nonviolent protest, played a significant role in advancing the cause of civil rights and ultimately led to the passage of landmark legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The impact of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his usage of the phrase “let freedom ring” cannot be overstated. It continues to resonate with people around the world, reminding us of the ongoing struggle for equality and the importance of standing up for justice.

Modern Significance and Ongoing Struggle for Freedom

The phrase “Let Freedom Ring” holds immense significance in today’s society, as it continues to symbolize the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice. While it originated from Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered during the Civil Rights Movement, its message remains relevant in current fights for justice.

Still Relevant in Current Fights for Justice

Despite progress in civil rights and social equality, the struggle for freedom is far from over. Discrimination, systemic racism, and other forms of inequality persist, making it crucial to keep the spirit of “Let Freedom Ring” alive.

This phrase serves as a reminder that the fight for justice is ongoing and that individuals must remain vigilant in their pursuit of equality for all.

Modern movements such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, gender equality, and immigrant rights are all examples of how the struggle for freedom continues. These movements echo the sentiment of “Let Freedom Ring” by demanding equal treatment, challenging oppressive systems, and advocating for the rights of marginalized communities.

Furthermore, the phrase “Let Freedom Ring” inspires individuals to take collective action and work towards a more inclusive and just society.

Letting Freedom Ring for All People

“Let Freedom Ring” is a call to ensure that freedom and justice are accessible to all people, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or social status. It emphasizes the importance of breaking down barriers and dismantling systems that perpetuate inequality.

The struggle for freedom extends beyond borders and affects people worldwide. From fighting for democracy in authoritarian regimes to advocating for human rights in areas of conflict, the message of “Let Freedom Ring” resonates globally.

Taking Action to Advance Freedom

To truly let freedom ring, it is essential for individuals to take action. This can be done through various means, such as engaging in peaceful protests, supporting organizations that fight for justice, educating oneself about the struggles faced by marginalized communities, and voting for leaders who prioritize equality and freedom.

By taking action, individuals contribute to the collective effort of advancing freedom and justice. It is through these actions that the true meaning of “Let Freedom Ring” is realized and the ongoing struggle for freedom is propelled forward.

Remember, “Let Freedom Ring” is not just a phrase, but a call to action for individuals to stand up for what is right and fight for a world where freedom and justice are truly universal.


The popular phrase ‘let freedom ring’ has long inspired people to take bold action to build a more just and equitable society. While its origins are in America’s freedom bell, it’s most associated with Dr. King and the civil rights movement.

But ‘let freedom ring’ is more than just an inspiring slogan. It’s a call to conscience – one we must keep answering through ongoing struggles for civil liberties, racial justice, and human rights. Though we’ve made progress, the dream of full equality and freedom for all remains unfulfilled.

Heeding freedom’s call requires constant vigilance and effort from each of us.

So let us reflect on Dr. King’s immortal words and pledge to advance the cause of freedom in our time. Together, through action and solidarity, we can let the bell of freedom ring out loud and clear for generations to come.

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