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Before "I Have a Dream," there was the "Great Walk to Freedom" in Detroit

Jan 16, 2017

Two months before his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marchers down Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

Rev. King famously called the March “the largest and greatest demonstration for freedom ever held in the United States.”

Over 125,000 people participated in the “Detroit Walk to Freedom” on June 23, 1963. The March was partially a practice run for the historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Cobo Hall in Detroit on June 23, 1963.
Credit 50th Anniversary Freedom Walk Facebook Page

The “Walk to Freedom” celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. That day, Martin Luther King III addressed thousands, with a sentiment similar to that of his father in 1963.

Today, Detroiters are memorializing the March by biking over 10 miles to various sites that King visited that day, including Cobo Arena, where he gave an early version of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Take a moment to listen to a clip of the speech at Cobo Arena:

The full text and audio of the 35-minute speech can be found here.

Other MLK celebrations around Michigan

Communities across Michigan are marking today’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with ceremonies and service projects.

Educational consultant Anthony Muhammad told a group in Flint this morning about the need to encourage young African-Americans to pursue their education as a way to fulfill Dr. King’s dream.

Muhammad says Dr. King would be “appalled” at the state of race relations in America.

“When it comes to really looking at another human being and saving you deserve the same justice as any other human being,” says Muhammad, “I think we’re just as far away now as we were when Dr. King was.”

Muhammad cites the Flint water crisis as an example of unequal justice in America.

Events honoring Rev. King around the state include an all-day celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, free admission to the Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery in Flint, and a Peace Walk Celebration in Southfield.

Details for those and other events can be found at the Detroit Free Press.

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