On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made a sweeping call for equality with his "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in front of more than 200,000 fellow activists during the historic March on Washington. Before King's brave words of unity gave hope to a divided country from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, they stirred the students of a segregated high school in North Carolina.
At Booker T. Washington High, just eight months before the March on Washington, Dr. King was recorded via reel-to-reel tape giving a rousing speech to the reported 1,800 attendees. The recording was quickly lost to storage until being recently unearthed and promptly restored by the English department at North Carolina State University. "That speech was the birth of 'I have a dream,'" says Jason Miller, who actively studies Dr. King's speeches and their implications at the university. "The first time he ever used the phrase 'I have a dream' was right here in North Carolina."
Upon the lost recording's initial discovery, Miller was quick to have its authenticity verified before passing it to Library of Congress affiliate George Blood for digital restoration, achieving the highest quality possible. "For the first time," the university said in a statement, "this historic speech can be heard."