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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963. Since then, it has become one of the most famous speeches in history. Here are 11 things you probably didn’t know about Dr. King’s speech.
1. The March on Washington was not totally supported by activists as not everyone agreed on all issues. They did, however, agree that blacks and whites ought to march together. Two major objectors were Malcolm X and Strom Thurmond.
2. For the most part, the speech was not heard clearly, even though an expensive sound system was installed for the event. The cause? The sound system was sabotaged right before the speech.
3. King had used the “dream” theme in many, lesser known speeches before.
4. King’s advisor, Wyatt Walker, told him not to use any of that “dream” stuff during the speech, saying it was “trite” and “cliché.”
5. The speech was not written solely by King himself. His advisors Stanley Levison and Clarence Jones wrote the first draft. The final speech was the effort of many others input. Nonetheless, King stayed up until 4 a.m. the night before working on the speech.
6. Instead of meeting to discuss the speech with his advisors in a hotel room, they met in the lobby of the Willard Hotel since it would be harder to wiretap than a hotel room.
7. “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.” Was shouted by Kings friend Mahalia Jackson, a gospel singer, causing King aside his prepared remarks and spontaneously went into the “dream” section of the speech.
8. William Sullivan, the head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division, was not as captivated by King’s speech. Two days after the speech he wrote in a memo that the speech set King “as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”
9. The day after the speech, the “dream” section of the speech went unnoticed. It was part of a generalized report that focused “on the extraordinary spectacle of the march itself.”
10. There were 10 speakers on the program for the public event at the Lincoln Memorial and all of them were men.
11. Thanks to a smart move by retired college basketball coach George Raveling, the typewritten speech given by Dr. King is locked away in a safe place. Raveling was asked to be a bodyguard on the stage and was standing right next to Dr. King when he asked for the speech.