The words “I have a dream” had scarcely stopped echoing across the Mall 50 years ago when Martin Luther King Jr. stepped away from the podium and a young security volunteer, standing just steps away, summoned the nerve to ask a question.
Might he have the copy of the speech King had just held, and ad-libbed from?
Quickly handing it over, King and the young man headed in opposite directions. The young man, George Raveling, was an assistant basketball coach at Villanova and went on to become a well-known and respected college coach. Now 77, Raveling recently explained to James Brown in a “CBS Sunday Morning” interview how he came to have the three type-written pages, which do not contain the words “I have a dream.”
“As soon as he finished, the place went wild . . . I saw he had folded it up and I said, ‘Dr. King, can I have that speech?’ ” Raveling told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2009. “He turned to hand it to me and appeared as if he was going to say something when a rabbi on the other side came up and congratulated him on what a wonderful speech it was. And that was the end of it.”
Raveling has been offered over $3 million for the speech, which he has willed to his children on the condition that they not sell it.
“The speech belongs to America,” Raveling, who coached at Washington State, Iowa and USC, told Brown. “The speech belongs to black folks. It doesn’t belong to me. It would be sacrilegious of me to try to sell it or to profit from it. I would like to think that somewhere out there my mom and dad and my grandma taught me better than that. Everything in life you can’t equate in money.”