The address that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave 50 years ago today has come to be known as the “I Have a Dream” speech. But the most memorable refrain in U.S. speech history was a work of improvisation that any jazz musician could appreciate.
King, on the eve of the March on Washington, was unsatisfied with the speech’s conclusion. The Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, a Chester resident who was part of King’s speech-writing team, was shuttling him suggested passages... Richmond lawyer Tommy P. Baer was 25 at the time of the speech and a recent Georgetown law school graduate when he found himself standing in front of the reflecting pool, about 200 feet from King.
“I knew it was a historic event and I believed then that attention needed to be drawn to the issues on which King was to speak and what the march was about,” he said. Also, the Kennedy administration was lukewarm on civil rights, “and this march certainly drew its attention.”
“I saw injustices being perpetrated against black communities, and the time was clearly ripe for change,” said Baer, a refugee from the Nazi Holocaust in Germany and the former international president of B’nai B’rith.
“I knew at the time that the speech was one for the ages,” Baer said, adding that “the dream” portion “really gave me the goose bumps, because that’s what this nation should be striving for...more.
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