The American Dream is what every American wants to have—a better, richer, and happier life. It’s about having the “freedom” to reach one’s goals in life and to achieve economic or social status better than one’s parents. This very desire is what Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson has and what Martin Luther King, Jr. wished for his fellow Black men to have as apparent in his “I Have a Dream” speech.
In The Piano Lesson, Boy Willie wants to sell their old piano to claim the Sutters, his ancestors’ former masters’ land. For him, it signifies his and his family’s absolute freedom and separation from slavery. He believes that once he has claimed the land his family, the Charles, have worked so hard for during the past generations, he will finally experience equality. There would be no trace of his family having masters to serve, and they would not be called slaves as they would have already become land owners themselves. For Boy Willie, selling the piano and claiming the land his forefathers have spilled sweat and blood for is his vision of the American Dream.
The speech Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, which is currently known as “I Have a Dream,” presents similar visions such as that of Boy Willie’s, the most apparent being the want for “freedom.” In his speech, Luther King expressed his dream for his people to be free—as free as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence say Americans, both Blacks and Whites, ought to be. He spoke of his desire for equality, for White and Black men to live side by side without thoughts of discrimination, and for men of all colors and of all beliefs to be able to hold hands and announce “real freedom” at last.