Jonathan Kozol gave statistics in his 2005 book The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America about just how segregated schools named for Rev. King or other civil rights heroes such as Thurgood Marshall & Rosa Parks are- typically 96-99% of students are African-American or Latino and most live in poverty. A shamefully large percentage of the students drop out, and many of those who do earn enough credits to graduate struggle to pass exit exams testing 10th grade English and 8th grade math skills. Kozol describes these schools as "tense, disorderly, socially unhappy, and often violent."
Rev. King's speech is filled with complex vocabulary and literary and historical allusions. For example, standing near the Lincoln Memorial he said:
"Fivescore years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice."
To understand this passage, one needs to be familiar with Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the terrible conditions existing under slavery. One must also know the definitions of "momentous", "decree", "beacon", "seared", "withering", etc. Without the relevant background knowledge, the passage is not going to make much sense.
For somebody like me who attended one of the best public schools in the state where I grew up, it is easy to grasp. But too many students of color in the U.S. are not receiving the type of education that would permit them to comprehend Rev. King's poetic and inspiring speech. De jure segregation has been replaced by de facto segregation.
It is shameful that over four decades have passed since Rev. King's speech and there still exists in this country such inequality of educational opportunity.