Hearing Dr. King’s Speech


August 28, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which he prophetically described as the event that “will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

Many Pittsburghers traveled to the demonstration in Washington D.C. that day, including Sala Udin, who organized a bus full of students on behalf of the NAACP Youth Council of Staten Island, New York (where he was in high school at the time) to attend the historic event.  He described that day during an interview conducted by the staff of the Teenie Harris Archive in 2011:

“We arrived early in the morning, and as the August sun in Washington D.C. got hotter and hotter and hotter, and the day went on, and speaker after speaker… and everybody was really waitin’ for the main keynote speaker of the day, was a man named Dr. King. And when he came out, a quarter of a million people just fell completely silent, and he spoke about what was happening to civil rights workers and people who lived in the south where he had come to Washington D.C. from. And he came with a message to tell Washington that they had given black folks a bad check, and he came to make that check good. I’d never heard anybody speak like that, except maybe Malcolm, in Harlem. And I said to myself, standing right there on the mall in that hot sun, sweatin’ – I said I want to join whatever it is he’s doing – I want to be one of them. And eighteen months later, I was on a bus headed for Mississippi, having been recruited by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and SNCC to come to Mississippi to work on voter registration, integrating schools and lunch counters, and so I had the opportunity to become a Freedom Rider. So that’s how I got involved.”

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with Loran Mann, Charles Harris, Matthew Moore, and Tom McGarrity at press conference, University of Pittsburgh, November 1966

Three years after this influential event, in November of 1966, Dr. King spoke in Pittsburgh where according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he “drew the largest turnout of students ever to hear a visiting speaker” at the University of Pittsburgh’s student union.  Teenie Harris captured several images of the press conference that followed Dr. King’s speech for the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seated behind table with microphone, with Charles Harris and Matthew Moore behind him, at press conference, University of Pittsburgh, November 1966

Hear the full version of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.