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Martin Luther King’s Last Visit to Detroit

I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job.

~Martin Luther King, June 23, 1963 Detroit, Michigan

Martin Luther King Jr, Walk to Freedom Detroit Michigan, 1963
Martin Luther King Jr, Walk to Freedom Detroit Michigan, 1963

The quotation above comes not from Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but rather from the massive Great March on Detroit (also known as the Walk to Freedom and the Freedom March) that happened 2 months earlier.

On June 23, 1963, an estimated 125,000 people marched down Detroit’s Woodward Avenue carrying placards and singing “We Shall Overcome.” National and state leaders who marched along with Reverend King included United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther, former Michigan governor John B. Swainson, and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh. The march ended at Cobo Hall where the Reverend King was cheered by thousands of marchers when he emphasized that segregation needed to end.

King called the Great March “one of the most wonderful things that has happened in America.”

You can click to read the full text of King’s speech and also hear some of the speech here and listen to some of King’s last Detroit sermon. There’s a few pictures of the march at the Detroit News including this shot of the crowd on Woodward Ave from above (sorry – no direct link scroll down and look for it). You can also get a shot of King speaking at Cobo from Wayne State University.