King’s First Dream Event to Highlight MLK’s 1962 Visit to Rocky Mount NC

Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer, Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Source:
Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer, Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Source:

The city of Rocky Mount and Dr. Jason Miller, professor at NC State University, will present King’s First Dream during Black History Month. This re-staging event, scheduled for Friday, February 23, 2018, starting at 6pm, will highlight Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to the Booker T. Washington (BTW) gymnasium in 1962 when he delivered the precursor to his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The event will take place at the BTW gym, located at 727 Pennsylvania Avenue, Rocky Mount NC.

Speeches will be delivered by select community members who have participated in previous King events and who were present when King’s speech was delivered in Rocky Mount. Dr. William Barber, former president of the NAACP, will provide comments via video.

The event will feature an extensive selection of recently restored audio from King’s speech set to video. There will also be a choral performance. Any individual interested in being a part of the choir should attend rehearsal on Thursday, February 22, 2018, 6pm, in the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount. Those who bring their own choir robe and participate in the choir will be given priority seating and will likely be featured in the documentary.

Says Sheila Long, recreation services supervisor at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences and coordinator for the King’s First Dream event:

“We are ecstatic to partner with Dr. Jason Miller in delivering an event reminiscent of King’s historical visit to Rocky Mount. Continuing to celebrate and educate our community about the significance of Dr. King’s visit to Rocky Mount is imperative.”

King’s First Dream will kick off a weekend of activities to support Miller’s “Origins of the Dream-Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric” documentary. Miller, who is also known for restoring the audio presented by King at the BTW gym in 1962, says the
upcoming film “will mix the traditional historical elements of archival footage, photographs and primary source documents with dramatic interpretations of works by Hughes and King.”

The King’s First Dream event will be recorded for use in the documentary film.

Admission to the King’s First Dream event will be free; however, a ticket is required for attendance and are available on the Imperial Centre website at Advanced tickets are also available at the Imperial Centre box office, located at 270 Gay Street in Rocky Mount. There is no guarantee that tickets will be available the night of the event.

With questions on King’s First Dream, call 252.972.1266.

Visit to learn more about the documentary.


Saturday Documentary Event

On Saturday, February 24, 2018, 4-9pm, Rocky Mount Mills will sponsor activities to be used as a fundraiser for Miller’s documentary. Rocky Mount Mills is inviting the public for an evening of music, food and fun. A variety of live music will. featuring Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen at 8pm.

Rocky Mount Mills is located at 1151 Falls Road, Rocky Mount NC. For more information on this event, coordinated by Rocky Mount Mills, visit

There will be a nominal fee for activities at Rocky Mount Mills.


Source: Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount

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