Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in North Carolina

In 2015, the longstanding rumor that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an earlier version of his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in North Carolina was proven to be true with the unveiling of a restored recording that took place at a high school gymnasium in Rocky Mount on Nov. 27, 1962.

This discovery only solidifies the significance of our state to the Civil Rights Movement. After a group of African American students ignited the “sit-in” movement in Greensboro in early 1960, Dr. King and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) held a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh with local sit-in leaders and urged attendees to utilize non-violent methods of protest. By August of that year, sit-ins had successfully ended segregation at lunch counters in 27 southern cities.

Before Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he made numerous visits to North Carolina throughout the duration of the Civil Rights Movement. We pay tribute to his legacy every year on the third Monday of January, serving as the perfect way to usher in Black History Month in February.

Join DNCR at the statewide kickoff of Black History Month with the 16th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, taking place at the NC Museum of History on Saturday, January 29th. The event, themed The Shoulders We Stand On, will feature more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, reenactors and more.

The Cultural Celebration is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the impact that African Americans have had on our state’s history, and is a chance to reflect on the importance of the cultural movements and people like Dr. King who have and continue to influence generations and push our country toward a more inclusive future.