Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist and scholar who led the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. paid tribute to him after his assassination. But did you know what happened to the copy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech?
Martin Luther King Jr. gave a copy of his “I Have a Dream” speech to then-security guard George Raveling upon his request. Raveling has been offered up to $3 million for the original copy but has turned down all offers.
The Iconic Speech
By the end of the Birmingham campaign, King and his supporters were planning a massive demonstration in the nation’s capital that would include multiple organizations, all calling for peaceful change.
The historic March on Washington drew over 200,000 people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech here, emphasizing his belief that all men could be brothers one day.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.Martin Luther King Jr.
The rising tide of civil rights agitation significantly impacted public opinion. Many people in non-racial cities began questioning the country’s Jim Crow laws and the nearly century of second-class treatment of African American citizens. (Source: Biography)
The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
By 1968, King’s years of protests and confrontations had taken their toll. He was sick of marching, going to jail, and living under the constant threat of death. He was becoming dissatisfied with the slow progress of civil rights in America and the growing criticism from other African American leaders.
Another march on Washington was planned to resurrect his movement and draw attention to a broader range of issues. A sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis in the spring of 1968 drew King to one final crusade.
On April 3, he delivered his final and eerily prophetic speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” telling supporters at Memphis’ Mason Temple, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get there.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated the next day while standing on a balcony outside his Lorraine Motel room. After a two-month international manhunt, the shooter, a disgruntled drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray was apprehended.
Riots and demonstrations erupted in over 100 cities across the United States in response to the assassination. Ray pleaded guilty to the assassination of King in 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. On April 23, 1998, he died in prison. (Source: Biography)
When is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
President Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing Martin Luther King Jr. in 1983. Day, a federal holiday commemorating the late civil rights leader’s legacy. (Source: Biography)