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In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

If ever there was a year to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy, it would be this one. As a graphic design professor teaching typography for many years, the spring semester’s first project involved Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. The students would design it as a poster, using three different approaches.

First, they would make the speech as legible as possible, choosing a typeface that was easy on the eyes and applying principles of good typography, like appropriate leading and margins. I would ask students to consider where to break the lines of type while honoring the speech’s intention and cadence. The objective was to take a long piece of text and, without pictures or other devices, to make reading an enjoyable and approachable experience. The results were, at best, elegant tributes to the speech in its simplest form.