Seattle reverend: 'I Have a Dream' almost wasn't included



Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 1:09 PM

Posing as a newspaper reporter, Dr. Reverend Samuel McKinney wriggled his way just feet from Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 when King delivered the now historic 'I Have a Dream' speech. Before those words were uttered, McKinney says he knew something unfolding that would change the world.

"We knew he was bound for greatness," said McKinney.

McKinney, now the pastor Emeritus at Seattle's Mt. Zion Baptist Church, was friends with King and served as his West Coast point man during the civil rights movement. When King lead the 'March on Washington' and delivered the speech, McKinney inadvertently became a part of history too.

"Dr. King was the right person in the right place at the right time," said McKinney, now 87.

But he remembers the phrase 'I Have a Dream' almost didn't make it into the speech.

"He just laid down what he had prepared, but it wasn't going over that well," McKinney remembered.

Several minutes in, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, seated nearby yelled "tell them about the dream," McKinney explained. Jackson had been with King at a previous speech in Detroit days earlier when the phrase was first used.

"So he pushed the script to one side and in an extemporaneous fashion, he went into his 'I have a dream' speech.

Delivered 50 years ago on Wednesday, King's vision still resonates with many in the United States. The speech was delivered to more than 250,000 people who came to Washington, D.C., to march for civil rights.

KING 5 viewers share their dreams: