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King Used ‘Dream’ Refrain in N.C.

January 14, 2001

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Nine months before giving his famous ``I Have a Dream″ speech, Martin Luther King Jr. apparently tested the phrasing for the first time in Rocky Mount, N.C.

``My friends of Rocky Mount, I have a dream tonight,″ King told a crowd of nearly 2,000 people. ``I have a dream that one day right here in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will meet at the table of brotherhood.″

King gave his famous address at the March on Washington in August 1963. Scholars had believed his first use of the ``Dream″ refrain came in Detroit in June 1963.

``This is the earliest I’ve heard,″ said Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University.

Carson said the speech wasn’t authenticated until last week, when The Charlotte Observer found a transcript and a contemporary news account of the November 1962 speech in Rocky Mount, about 40 miles east of Raleigh.

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