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

Walter P. Ruether Library
Wayne State University
Rev. Martin Luther King marches down Woodward Ave. during the Walk to Freedom on June 23, 1963.

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

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.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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