Were portions of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech delivered a decade beforehand in Portland?


By Thomas Robinson
This posting has been corrected for errors of sequence and fact, I appreciate the comments and information.

Photo taken February 14, 1953. Archibald James Carey Jr. (1908 – 1981) speaking in Portland at Lincoln High School on Lincoln day. He was a Black American lawyer, judge, politician, diplomat and clergyman from the south side of Chicago. Carey was also King’s longtime mentor and friend.

Seven months before the Portland speech this photograph shows, Carey was a keynote speaker at the 1952 Republican National Convention, and that speech is considered to be the seed of many of the sentences that Martin Luther King used in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

On July 8, 1952, the finale of Carey’s address to the Republican convention was: “We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: ‘My country ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrim’s pride! From ev’ry mountainside, Let freedom ring!’ That’s exactly what we mean–from every mountain side, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia–let it ring not only for the minorities in the United States; but for … the disinherited of all the earth…–may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING!”

For comparison, this is what Martin Luther King said in Washington DC  on August 28, 1963: “This will be the day when all God’s children will sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died! Land of the Pilgrim’s pride! From ev’ry mountainside, Let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation this must come true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

None of this was written in King’s prepared text of his speech. Halfway through it, Mahalia Jackson, a gospel singer and good friend of King’s, shouted “tell ‘em about the ‘dream.” From this point in the speech, King stopped looking down at his notes and improvised.

In the Stanford University Martin Luther King Papers Project, the editors write: “Like many 19th-century orators who often borrowed from one another, King adopted his conclusion from Chicago preacher Archibald Carey’s address at the 1952 Republican convention, who in turn adapted the patriotic song, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

In 1957, King spoke in St. Louis and said “As I heard a great orator say some time ago, freedom must ring from every mountainside.”

It is likely that Carey’s use of the mountain metaphor, which he used at the Republican National Convention seven months before his speech in Portland, and was later used by King in 1963, was heard in Portland in 1953.

It is interesting to note how the Republican party changed so dramatically in the 1964 election. Since the time of Abraham Lincoln, the Republicans had been the leaders in Civil Rights legislation for Blacks, and for American Indians as well. Locally, Senator Mark Hatfield participated in many Civil Rights activities. This all changed during Kennedy’s administration, and many Black voters left the Republican party during the Goldwater/Johnson election in 1964, which Johnson won, and resulted in the Civil Rights act’s passage the next year. Since then, the Democratic party has led Black Civil Rights legislation, and the Republicans inherited the Southern White votes.

It is likely that KOIN broadcast the Portland speech, judging by their microphone, but I’m unable to track a recording or transcript of it today.

Photograph by Allan deLay (1915-2005) and ©Thomas Robinson. Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Sources of information:

The Oregonian, February 14, 1953, pg. 7 “Lincoln Talk Set”

Keith D. Miller, “Voice Merging and Self-Making: The Epistemology of ‘I Have a Dream,’” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 19 (Winter, 1989), 23-31. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3885221?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Wikipedia entry for Carey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archibald_Carey_Jr.

Anne Wortham, “Martin Luther King’s Flawed Dream,” The World and I, June 1998, 66-71.http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-21154755/martin-luther-king-s-flawed-dream quoted by Lew Rockwell at https://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/08/anne-wortham/was-the-mlk-dream-speech-original/#_ednref3

Clayborne Carson, Ralph E. Luker, Penny A. Russell, eds., The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Birth of a New Age : December 1955-December 1956 Vol. III, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. See “Carey, Archibald J., Jr. (1908-1981),” at http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/

Carmine Gallo “How Martin Luther King Improvised ‘I Have A Dream'” Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2013/08/27/public-speaking-how-mlk-improvised-second-half-of-dream-speech/#7c802e44d4bf

Sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved

By Thomas Robinson

The group of glass plate negatives that I’m working to identify now is the work of a photographer who ran a photo tent in a traveling circus. Most photographs taken at circus photo-booths are direct positives, such as Polaroids, and for those there are no negatives. Back then, direct positives were called tintypes.  Negatives would be taken only if a dozen or more prints were wanted.  The glass plate negative collection contains, as one might imagine of a circus, a lot of random images, as well as actors in the circus and events, and there are a few wagon repair shops. This portrait was obviously taken to make souvenir cards for the snake charmer woman to sell at her tent.

Good clues abound within the images; the lettered signs appearing on the photographer’s backdrops stated the year and location. They indicate that the circus travelled along the Oregon Coast in 1909 from Brookings to Seaside, and then on to Portland.

Online newspaper archives that are electronically searchable provide research tools to historians that were previously unimaginable. I use the University of Oregon and Multnomah County Library historical newspaper resources every day to identify photographs. I’ve become used to expecting the unexpected, but sometimes the information I find is so far from what I conceived logical, that I regret even looking for it in the first place.

It wasn’t hard to compile a list of all the circus companies that toured Oregon in 1909, which were less than a half-dozen. Only one of them was home-grown, and that was Professor Miller’s. His carnival arrived in Portland for a ten-day stay in June, 1909, and the Oregonian review identified “Zena the snake charmer”

Further information was forthcoming, but as I mentioned, it was not what I had thought it might be. The next mention of her in the press was her obituary, which appeared two years and two months later, in August 1911.

The obituary identified Zena as Grace Moreland, who was born and raised in Tillamook. She was twenty years old at the time she suicided at the Iberia hotel in Boise, Idaho.

According to the circus director, Professor Miller, in comments he said to the press following her death, she had been with the circus for three years. She had a boyfriend whom she was engaged to marry, J. W. O’Donnell.

Newspaper accounts said he was the balloonist who operated the hot-air balloon rides. When the circus arrived at Weiser, Idaho, in June, 1911, at a spot next to the Snake river, something went wrong in the balloon and he attempted to parachute out. The parachute ropes became entangled in his neck and he landed in the Snake river and drowned. His body was found the next day in Huntington, Oregon, 22 miles downstream. Grace Moreland fainted upon hearing the news of her fiancé’s death. Professor Miller said “they were like brother and sister”.

Two months after the death of her fiancé,  Grace Moreland attended a dance at the White City in Boise, Idaho, and subsequently went to her hotel room and took a fatal dose of chloroform. She left a few letters and was found clutching the bottle of poison. It was left to the Boise coroner to administrate her personal effects; which primarily were 22 snakes.

This is an amazing story of an Oregon woman. According to newspapers, she had no family members left excepting a grandmother in Portland. Grace Moreland led an itinerant and independent lifestyle a decade before women had the right to vote. I admire the fortitude, entrepreneurship, and independence of Grace Moreland.


From the same collection of negatives, Carnival Balloon on Cascade Ave, Marshfield (now called Coos Bay), Oregon 1909.

Sources of information: Daily East Oregonian, Saturday August 19, 1911, page 5, col. 3; La Grande Evening Observer, Thursday, August 17, 1911, pg. 6, col. 1-3; Lake County Examiner, August 31, 1911, pg. 6, col. 4; The Morning Oregonian, Thursday August 17, 1911, pg. 2, col. 3; and Friday July 16, 1909, pg. 11, col. 2.

Continue reading Sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved