University Professor Finds an Audio Tape of an Early “I Have a Dream” Speech

KingBookMartin Luther King Jr. presented his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. But few people know that Dr. King gave a rough draft of that famous speech in the gymnasium of a racially segregated high school in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

On November 27, 1962, Dr. King addressed a crowd of 1,800 people in the high school gym. Apparently, this was the first time that Dr. King used the words “I have a dream” in a speech.

Several years ago W. Jason Miller, an associate professor of English at North Carolina State University who was working on a book project, found a transcript of the Rocky Mount speech. He concluded that a tape must have been made. In 2013, after an extensive search he found an audio tape in an old cardboard box in the Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount. On the tape were the words “Dr. Martin Luther King Speech: Please do not erase.”

The tape is an audio recording of the 55-minute address Dr. King gave in Rocky Mount nine months before his address at the Lincoln Memorial. Professor Miller is digitizing the recording and plans to put it online this fall. He has created 89 annotations for the speech that will be accessible through hyperlinks on the website.

“There are no edits, there are no dubs, there are no missing words in this speech,” Dr. Miller said. “You can hear the audience’s reactions, you can hear Dr. King rap on the podium, you can hear exactly how he enunciated his words, and more importantly, you can hear what I consider to be the most unique speech of his career.”

Dr. Miller is the author of the book Origins of the Dream: Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric (University Press of Florida, 2015).

Related Articles

1 COMMENT

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to contact@JBHE.com.

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs