The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will display the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s original speech from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This announcement kicks off a season of celebrating the museum’s fifth anniversary on Sept. 24 and highlights its ongoing mission to tell American history through the lens of the African American experience. The museum will showcase the artifact in the “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom” gallery beginning Aug. 28, commemorating the day of the march. The speech, on loan from Villanova University, will be on view in a newly installed case alongside other objects associated with King.
“Dr. King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech is rightly regarded as a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, and one of the most famous and influential orations of the American history,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “Seeing the speech in person only reinforces the ways that King was a brilliant rhetorician and inspiring leader—his words not only resonate today, but we can see how this version of his remarks was just a starting point for him to transform the podium into a pulpit, the speech into a sermon on history and hope, and the occasion into one for the ages.”