Lot 133

Previous image preload Next image preload


Martin Luther King, Jr.
Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963
MLK's Legendary "I Have a Dream" Speech - Advance Text Given to Press at 1963 March on Washington

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). "Advance Text of Speech To Be Delivered By Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." as President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 3pp, 8.5" x 14", Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. Original mimeograph, run off by the March's Press Office between 4:00-7:00 a.m. on August 28th. Staple at top left corner. Some discoloration, the majority of which is on the first page. Minor edgewear. In near fine condition.

Although Martin Luther King had spent months working to ensure the success of the March, he didn't seriously turn to writing his speech until the night before, when he met with his key advisors at the Willard Hotel, around 8:00 p.m. By 10:00 p.m., Clarence Jones was sent upstairs to organize the notes he had taken, and to draft the speech. A little less than two hours later, Jones returned, and by midnight, King took the revised notes up to his room to finish. It was approximately 4:00 a.m. when he handed it in, and by 7:00 a.m., the press office had finished running off mimeograph copies for use in press kits.

People would wait for hours to hear Dr. King, but the two main organizers of the March, Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, had to contend with leaders of more than a dozen Civil Rights organizations. Officially, Dr. King had the same 5-minute maximum as the other most prominent leaders; privately, Rustin and Randolph had agreed that Dr. King could go longer.

That morning, King and the other leaders met, lobbied Congress, sat for group photographs, greeted VIPs who had come from far and wide, and then had to rush back to get in front of the marchers who spontaneously started marching more than an hour early. Then, as the ceremonies began, they slipped out to a meeting right behind Lincoln's statue, to continue to wrestle with John Lewis, the 23-year old chairman of the SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, whose speech was considered too inflammatory. Lewis agreed to remove his reference to "patience" as a dirty word. If he hadn't, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Thomas O'Boyle, scheduled to give the invocation, threatened to pull out of the March entirely. We don't believe King's speech was "reviewed" at all. Leaving some time for crowd reaction, his three-page "Advance Text" was just the right length.

Watching different films of the speech, we can see that Dr. King would frequently glance down to the "Advance Text" until he arrived at the last paragraph. Just then, whether he consciously heard it or not, Mahalia Jackson called out, "Tell them about the dream, Martin." With hardly a pause, Dr. King looked up, and launched into "I Have a Dream." He didn't look down again until he had finished what has become known as one of the most legendary and influential speeches in American history.

It is fascinating to consider how the speech, as it was prepared, would have been received without the soaring oratory that he extemporaneously added. Even the shorter draft conveyed a powerful message, that America had defaulted on the promissory note of the Declaration of Independence – but that this nation could still rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." We hope that message still resonates today.

The Advance Speech Mimeograph – Census of Known Copies in Institutions:
-- Villanova University. On exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of African American History and Culture. This is the copy MLK had at the podium, and gave to George Raveling right after the speech.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. MLKPP.
-- Duke University, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Durham, N.C. Harry C. Boyte Family Papers.
-- The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, New York, N.Y. Wyatt Tee Walker Collection.
-- Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. Amistad Research Center.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


  • 8.5" x 14"
  • Artist Name:
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

Accepted Forms of Payment:

ACH, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Unless otherwise indicated, we do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice. If any changes to the shipping address need to be made, you must inform us immediately.***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: http://universityarchives.com/UserFiles/ShippingInfo.pdf. At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 10 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Wilton, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

April 10, 2024 10:30 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000