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49 Years Ago, Martin Luther King Foreshadows I Have a Dream

On June 23, 1963, future Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr. led the “March to Freedom” in Detroit to promote an end to racial segregation.

Dr. King was then in the midst of a tour from California to New York. His Detroit stop proved the tour’s biggest success with crowds of 125,000. The Detroit Free Press labeled it “the largest civil rights demonstration in the nation’s history.” The walk lasted an hour and a half, as marchers carried signs and sang rallying songs including “We Shall Overcome” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Dr. King in the Detroit March to Freedom

At the walk’s conclusion, King gave a speech to 25,000 people, largely African-Americans. King spoke of non-violence and an end to racial segregation. The press reported that King “ended his speech by telling of a dream.” He described his dream of whites and blacks “walking together hand in hand, free at last,” foreshadowing his arguably most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” which would take place two months later in Washington DC.

John F. Kennedy, US president at the time, was also a big proponent of Civil Rights. Tragically, both were assassinated in their prime–JFK later that year, and MLK in 1968.


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