Martin Luther King’s 1st “I Have a Dream” speech
Martin Luther King’s 1st “I Have a Dream” speech In this Aug. 28, 1963 photo, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, gestures during his "I Have a Dream" speech as he addresses thousands of civil rights supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo)
Martin Luther King’s 1st “I Have a Dream” speech
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Before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington in 1963, he fine-tuned his civil rights message before a much smaller audience in North Carolina.
Reporters had covered King's 55-minute speech at a high school gymnasium in Rocky Mount on Nov. 27, 1962, but a recording wasn't known to exist until English professor Jason Miller found an aging reel-to-reel tape in a town library. Miller played it in public for the first time Aug. 11 at North Carolina State University.
"It is part civil rights address. It is part mass meeting. And it has the spirit of a sermon," Miller said. "And I never before heard Dr. King combine all those genres into one particular moment."
King used the phrase "I have a dream" eight times in his address to about 2,000 people at Booker T. Washington High School in Rocky Mount, eight months before electrifying the nation with the same words at the March on Washington.
He also referred to "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners," saying he dreamed they would "meet at the table of brotherhood." On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King changed that to "sit down together at the table of brotherhood." In both speeches, "Let Freedom Ring" served as his rallying cry.
"It's not so much the message of a man," the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said. "It's the message of a movement, which is why he kept delivering it. It proves once again that the 'I have a dream' portion was not a good climax to a speech for mere applause, but an enduring call to hopeful resistance and a nonviolent challenge to injustice."
Miller discovered the recording while researching "Origins of the Dream," his book exploring similarities between King's speeches and the poetry of Langston Hughes. His ah-ha moment came when he learned through a newspaper story about a transcript of the speech in state archives. If there's a transcript, then there must be a recording, he thought.
He sent emails and made calls until he eventually heard back in the fall of 2013 from the Braswell Public Library in Rocky Mount, where staff said a box with the recording had mysteriously appeared on a desk one day. Handwriting on the box described it as a recording of King's speech, and said, "please do not erase."
Before listening to the recording, Miller confirmed that the 1.5-millimeter acetate reel-to-reel tape could be played safely. He brought it to an audio expert in Philadelphia, George Blood, who set it as close to its original levels as he could. Then Blood, whose clients include the Library of Congress, digitized the tape.
It proved fortunate for King that he had practiced the dream part of his speech in Rocky Mount and later in Detroit, because it wasn't part of his typewritten speech in Washington. Historians say the singer Mahalia Jackson shouted "Tell them about the dream, Martin!" as he reached a slow point in his prepared text. King then improvised, and lit up the audience with phrases very similar to those he had delivered in that gymnasium.
Three people who were in the audience that day in 1962 listened again as the recording was played at the university's James B. Hunt Library. Herbert Tillman, who was about 17 years old at the time, recalled how happy they were to see and hear such an inspiring leader.
"Everybody was attentive to what he had to say," Tillman said. "And the words that he brought to Rocky Mount were words of encouragement that we really needed in Rocky Mount at that time."
Barber said this newly available recording of King's earlier speech - urging blacks to focus on voting rights and peacefully but forcefully push for change - is just as inspiring today.
"Make no mistake. This kind of oratory is dangerous," Barber said, "especially for those who want to go back, especially for those who want the status quo because this kind of oratory can loose the captive and set people free to stand up and fight for their own freedom."

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How is this recording made in North Carolina connected to the speech Martin Luther King gave in Washington?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • DarlenyP-did
    4/24/2020 - 02:34 p.m.

    The two are connected by the power and optimism that they projected onto the crowd when spoken. Though the age in the audiences vary, it still goes beyond its purpose.

  • TyneishaR-did
    4/24/2020 - 02:36 p.m.

    The speech made in North Carolina connected to the speech of Martin Luther King gave in Washington because they both talked about how she wanted people former slaves and people of former slave owner to come together and Brotherhood. The man who searched around for the kids to find the video because he found that there was a transcript but he couldn't find the video. When you finally found the video he discovered everything that my queen was singing how he wanted everybody to be unified togethe.

  • CharlyC-did
    4/24/2020 - 02:42 p.m.

    It is connected because the speech is the same when he first gave it at North Carolina and in Washington. He did this maybe in order to rehearse his speech until he was even more confident enough to deliver it to thousands of people he wanted to impact that day.

  • MaggieM-pla
    9/21/2020 - 06:45 p.m.

    This article was focused around Martin Luther King Jr and his famous speech, I Have a Dream. What set this apart from other sources and tributes referring to and rejoicing in the speech, is that this article went much deeper than the words or message but all the work that went into it. Martin Luther King Jr practiced and revised his speech multiple times before he delivered his I Have a Dream speech at the March of Washington. One of those specifically being in a high school gymnasium in Rocky Mount on November 27, 1962 in front of only 55 spectators. He then moved onto bigger and bigger crowds and practiced for months on end to make sure it was perfect. When he did speak at the March of Washington, spectators claimed it was perfect. This connects back to civic responsibility for numerous reasons. To begin, at the March of Washington hundreds, thousands of people were there to listen. They were doing their part of not only civic responsibility but also civic engagement. Martin Luther King Jr was also participating in his role of civic responsibility because he was pleading his case and speaking true to his morals and beliefs. Another form of civic engagement that this ties back to is the responsibility of listening to those who speak in a room full of 55 people. It’s being there to listen when there is still more time to revise the speech and to leave that thinking and asking questions to yourself about what you previously heard.

  • Willl-pla
    3/10/2021 - 05:00 p.m.

    This article covered the interesting history of the "I have a dream" speech given by Martin Luther King. It demonstrated how that speech really was the culmination of all of his years of public speaking. An amazing civic participant, Martin Luther King had gone all around the country spreading his message of social and legal equality for black citizens. This article documents these developments, and how certain speeches he had given were almost like rough drafts of his iconic, earth shattering speech. He truly was one of the greatest civic participants to ever live, spreading his message positively while convincing people of all races and viewpoints to peacefully demand change.

  • hillaryn-
    2/04/2022 - 02:32 p.m.

    According to the text, MLK's original speech was first spoken in North Carolina. From there, he "fine-tuned" the speech (revised, or adjusted a little bit of the wording), and gave an even more inspiring speech in Washington DC.

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