Lessons from the Past: 10 Famous Public Speeches That Influenced The World


Over the years, many inspirational leaders have succeeded in changing the world through their incredibly powerful speeches and as a result left their mark through history. Despite fighting for different causes, every one of these leaders had a vision and managed to influence society to work towards accomplishing a dream that was once seen as impossible.

See Also: 10 Ways You Can Change the World

Go ahead and take a look at these 10 famous public speeches that changed the world as we know it today:

1. Martin Luther King, August 28. 1963

Martin Luther King’s inspirational speech ‘I have a dream’ gave hope to the African American community who wanted to see a change in the formation of the societal structure. King’s speech was much more like a sermon that spoke out to fellow citizens encouraging them to share his beliefs and take action in order to fight racial discrimination and inequality amongst black and white Americans.

2. Theodore Roosevelt, 1883

Theodore Roosevelt was the one who stressed the importance of citizenship engagement in politics and the responsibility they hold towards their country. Instead of blaming the government’s elites for the problems the nation was facing, he took another approach. In the speech, Roosevelt encouraged citizens to become actively involved in the political scene of the nation carrying out the duties of the American citizenship.

3. John F. Kennedy, 1961

President John F. Kennedy’s decision to send an American safely to the Moon was proposed through his speech before a special joint session of Congress. In an attempt to catch up with the Soviet Union in the ‘space race’, he came to the decision to send Appollo 11 to the Moon in 1969.

4. Frederick Douglass, 1852

A former slave, who became the leader of the abolitionist movement Frederick Douglass, delivered a speech on the Fourth of July in New York, in which he talked about freedom and slavery. Douglass stressed out the irony that despite celebrating National Independence, there were still many people who worked as slaves. His famous statement known as ‘What to the Slave is your Fourth of July?’ is considered to be the greatest anti-slavery oration that was ever given.

5. Mahatma Gandhi, 1942

A non-violent movement that aimed to make India an independent nation and liberate the country from the British crown had just started when Mahatma Gandhi delivered his speech ‘Quit India’. Gandhi’s speech managed to grant India its independence after the help he asked from the National Indian Congress, which allowed the passing of the Quit India Resolution.

6. Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Perhaps the most famous speech that was ever given by President Abraham Lincoln was ‘The Gettysburg Address’. In his influential statement, the president referred to the importance of human equality and the huge impact the American Civil War had on its preservation. Through his words, he memorialised the sacrifices of those who died on the Gettysburg field and expressed his vision of helping America develop through the values of democracy.

7. William Faulkner, 1950

William Faulkner gave a public speech in Sweden to accept his Nobel Prize for ‘his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel’. What made it so inspiring for the rest of the world was that he gave his opinion on The Cold War and how both the US and Soviet Union were going to bring a massive catastrophe on the world through the creation of nuclear weapons.

8. Douglas MacArthur, 1962

Douglas McArthur

When General Douglas MacArthur received the Sylvanus Thayer Award for his outstanding service to the nation, he came up with a speech that inspired the young soldiers. In his speech, he highlighted the three important ideals “Duty, Country, Honor” and showed cadets that they need to give everything and sacrifice what they have in defense of their homes. He also talked about courage and what their real purpose as soldiers is.

9. Malcolm X, 1962

As the minister he was, Malcolm X or Malcolm Little believed in preserving human rights and equality. Through his speech in Los Angeles he referred to the hate and discrimination, black Americans experienced from the social domination of white Americans. His words inspired the African American community and boosted the morale of African American women so that could they feel comfortable in their own body and the colour of their skin.

10. Ronald Reagan, 1987

Roland Reagan’s “Tear This Wall” speech has long been seen as a critical milestone in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, to tear the Berlin wall down as an attempt to fulfill Gorbachev’s wish to allow more freedom in the Easter Bloc. Two years later, this letter led to the destruction of the eastern bloc once the wall was demolished.

Every single one of these people had a common goal, and that was to change the world so that we can have a better place to live in. A place that respects diversity and human rights and where people can embrace peace and freedom as true citizens of the world.

It’s important for all of these famous public speeches to be known throughout the humankind. Only then, we can we innovate and inspire other people to take action and fight to create a world that forsakes the cruel filaments of inequality.

Are there any other great speeches you know about but haven’t been included in the list? Let us know in the comments section below…