Original Handwritten Martin Luther King Jr. Speech to be Displayed at UofM March 26-April 13

Iconic "We Shall Overcome" speech became rallying cry for civil rights movement

March 1, 2018 - The University of Memphis will display the original copy, complete with handwritten notes, of the historic speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered to the General Synod of the United Church of Christ in Chicago on July 6, 1965.

In the iconic speech Dr. King publicly declared, "We shall overcome" – a phrase that became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement. The speech will go on display in the McWherter Library rotunda on the University of Memphis campus in an unveiling ceremony on March 26 at 9:30 am. It will continue to be displayed through April 13 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.

"We are honored and humbled to share this extraordinary artifact with our students and the greater Memphis community as we come together to observe the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "Dr. King left an indelible mark on American history, and his impact is especially profound here in Memphis. We look forward to hosting a series of events and activities this spring that will honor Dr. King's legacy and help us reflect on the civil rights and social justice issues of today."

Prominent Memphis philanthropist Avron B. Fogelman purchased the 20-page speech at auction for $382,000 and has generously granted the University of Memphis the exclusive opportunity to display the one-of-a-kind artifact on campus.

"Growing up in Memphis, I had a special feeling for what Dr. King accomplished, so I was especially pleased to have the opportunity to own this iconic speech in which Dr. King first wrote the phrase most closely associated with the civil rights movement," said Fogelman. "This is the first time I have shared this speech with the public, and I'm delighted to share it with the University of Memphis for its month-long exhibit honoring Dr. King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I commend President Rudd for keeping the accomplishments of Dr. King alive for all of us."

The speech will be on display in the McWherter Library rotunda March 26-April 13 on Monday-Thursday from 7:30 am – midnight; Friday from 7:30 am – 6 pm; Saturday from 10 am – 6 pm; and Sunday from 1 pm – 10 pm.


Chuck Gallina | 901.678.1756 l cgallina@memphis.edu