Michigan woman captured in historic image

Edith Lee-Payne was there for Dr. Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech


DETROIT – For almost a half century, she was the mystery girl in the photo that is now part of American History.

When she was 12 years old, Edith Lee-Payne went with her mother to the Lincoln Memorial to hear the Dr. Martin Luther King "I have a dream" speech.

A photo of her holding a banner was taken and has appeared in history books, school text books and is permanently placed in the National Archives.

But no one knew who that girl is, until three years ago. 

"It came about when my cousin saw the picture in a Black History calendar. She called me," Lee-Payne said.  


After that, Lee-Payne tracked down the photographer who had taken several shots. 

The banner she was holding in 1963 says "I was there."

 "I still have that banner in that picture," Lee-Payne said.  

As far as the dream speech, Edith says she could not relate to the segregated south. 

It was not part of her life in Detroit. 

"In the north, I lived the dream that Dr. King talked about. I went to school with white children, they lived in my neighborhood, they went to my church," Lee-Payne said. "So when I heard about people in the south not being able to do the things that I could do, it didn't register with me. How could we live in the same country and have so many differences?"

Today, Edith is 60 years old and is still very active in Detroit and involved in city hall issues. Her photo image will live on forever.