Remembering the day Martin Luther King Jr. debuted precursor to ‘I Have A Dream’ speech in Detroit

DETROIT – Monday is the 35th official Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Celebrated the third Monday of every January, the holiday celebrates Dr. King’s Jan. 15 birthday and his legacy.

The holiday was observed as a federal holiday for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986. The Civil Rights leader fought for the end of social injustice and the expansion of labor rights -- battles that are still ongoing.

For many, MLK Day is just another day off -- a day to relax, a day to do things, do some community service. For one couple, the day means so much more to them because they were there the day King came to Detroit and debuted his original “I Have a Dream” speech on June 23, 1963.



An estimated 125,000 people walked with King down Woodward Avenue. The Walk to Freedom ended at the TCF Center, then named Cobo Arena, where Dr. King delivered a powerful speech -- a precursor to his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech two months later in Washington.

Somewhere in that crowd was a 22-year-old warrior for Civil Rights named Dorothy Dewberry-Aldridge. She and her husband, Dan Aldridge, have spent more than 60 years fighting for Civil Rights, equality and social justice.

The worked side-by-side with Rosa Parks and Julian Bond in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked to expose police brutality in 1967 when three Black teens were fatally shot at the Algiers Motel.

You can watch Paula Tutman’s full story in the video above.


About the Authors: