One of the greatest speeches in history was not going so well.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before 250,000 people on the National Mall in Washington 54 years ago today. He spoke from a prepared text. He was nervous. The speech wasn’t flat. It just wasn’t great.
Perhaps sensing that he wasn’t reaching the throngs before him, King paused. He set aside his text and reached for words that he hoped would galvanize a nation.
Two things about the extraordinary oratory that came next are not widely known. For one, the “I Have a Dream” speech was not in King’s text that day. For another, King had uttered those words in an earlier speech, in a small town, 10 months before, and he had a notion of their power.
Find out where the “I Have a Dream” speech came from and meet some of the people whose lives it touched more than a half-century ago.