George Raveling, who played in the area in the 1950s, has the original copy of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech in his possession.

Last updated: August 30. 2013 12:08AM - 3015 Views
By - elewis@civitasmedia.com

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Once a student at St. Michaels School for boys near Tunkhannock in the 1950s, former basketball coach George Raveling has the original draft of what is considered one of the greatest speeches ever.

Published and broadcast reports in recent days say Raveling, 77, has Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech secured in a bank vault in Los Angeles, where he works as the director of international basketball for Nike.

Raveling did not respond to an email seeking an interview on Thursday.

Raveling, a native of Washington, D.C., attended school St. Michaels in Hoban Heights section of Wyoming County, which competed in the former Catholic League. He earned a scholarship to play basketball at Villanova University where he captained the Wildcats and earned All-American honor in 1959 and 1960.

He also played three years with the former Wilkes-Barre Barons Basketball team in the Eastern Basketball League, according to The Times Leader archives.

He went on to become head coach at Southern California, Iowa and Washington State after serving as an assistant at Maryland.

Raveling once considered enrolling at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre before deciding Villanova, Times Leader archives note.

How did Raveling obtain Dr. King’s speech?

National news reports say Raveling while visiting a friend in Wilmington, Del., a few days before Aug. 28, 1963, learned about the forthcoming Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.

Raveling told CBS News that his friend’s father urged them to attend the march and they went to the Nation’s Capitol the night of Aug. 27 and met a gentleman, who asked if they wanted to provide security of the event.

The next morning, Aug. 28, the day of the march, Raveling and his friend arrived early at the Lincoln Memorial. Raveling was assigned to provide security near the podium where he listened to a few speakers before Dr. King.

Raveling told CBS News that Dr. King’s demeanor changed when a woman yelled out, “Tell them about the dream.”

And there it was.

Raveling recalled for CBS News that Dr. King’s “rhythm” changed as he captured the estimated 300,000 in attendance. As Dr. King finished his speech, which did not contain “I have a dream,” Raveling said he approached the civil rights leader and asked for the copy.

“The place goes wild and I walk over and I see him fold it and I said to him, ‘Dr. King, can I have the copy?’ And he handed it to me and that was the end of it.”

Raveling went on to tell CBS News that the speech was not titled, “I Have a Dream.”

When former President John F. Kennedy invited Dr. King to the White House, the president said to him, “I love your ‘I Have a Dream speech,’ and the media captured this,” Raveling told CBS News.

News reports say Raveling has been offered $3.5 million for the speech, which is three pages. He has willed it to his children on agreement that it not be sold.

“The speech belongs to black folks … It would be sacrilegious of me to try to sell it or to profit from it,” Raveling told CBS on Wednesday.

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