Here are items #7 and #8 from Joe Carter’s 9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington, which happened 50 years ago today:
7. King was the last speaker because no one else wanted that slot (everyone assumed the news media would leave by mid-afternoon). King agreed to take it and planned to speak for 4 minutes (he ended up speaking for 16 minutes).
8. King improvised the most recognizable, memorable part of the speech that he is most famous for, according to his speechwriter and attorney Clarence B. Jones. Although King had spoken about a dream before two months earlier in Detroit, the “dream” was not in the text prepared by Jones. King initially followed the text Jones had written but gospel singer Mahalia Jackson yelled, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!” King nodded to her, placed the text of his speech aside, and veered off-script, delivering extemporaneously what is one of the most famous orations in American history.
And here’s the speech: