GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of what many people call Martin Luther King Jr.'s first "I Have A Dream Speech."
King's historic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is largely credited with shining a national spotlight on racial issues of the time and the civil rights movement.
However, just a few months earlier, June 23, 1963, Dr. King marched and spoke in Detroit.
At that time, that Detroit speech was the largest civil rights demonstration to ever be held. King spoke before 25,000 people at Cobo Hall, following a massive civil rights march of 125,000 people down Woodward Avenue.
"It was a month after he was in Birmingham, Alabama, with the police dogs and Bull Connor and he comes up to Detroit for a few reasons," said Louis Moore, an assistant professor of History at Grand Valley State University. "He wanted to get Detroiters and people in the North involved with going down South, to raise awareness to this as a national cause.
"On the other hand, Martin Luther King also wanted people to understand that in the North you have de-facto segregation and it is just as bad as illegal segregation in the South."
The Detroit speech focused on issues important to minorities in both the North and South. Dr. King spoke about education, housing and poverty.
"It is a major speech because now the nation starts to realize that there is this huge national concern going on in the north about schools, about lack of jobs, about poverty and violence. So, now people are starting to pay attention to a little bit more," said Moore.
Historians say King fine-tuned what would be his "I have a Dream Speech" in Detroit, saying it is the first time King used the phrase in a public speech.
"In the Washington D.C. speech he is mainly talking about integration and blacks and whites coming together as one in kind of what he calls as "beloved community," said Moore. "It's att that speech that is when you hear somebody in the background tell him 'tell them about your dream.' That dream is part of that Detroit speech where he said he has a dream and it is about desegregation in Detroit.
Saturday, June 22nd, participants will march the same historic route, down Woodward Avenue in Detroit that people marched in 1963. And Martin Luther King III will speak about his father's legacy during the Commemorative Freedom Walk.