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Villanova Basketball Alum’s MLK Artifact

By Michelle Callaghan

Lincoln_Memorial_I_Have_a_Dream_Marker_2413

(National Park Service Digital Image Archives)

Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To this day the speech is a key piece of oration for the Civil Rights movement. Like every great orator, MLK had some prepared speech notes for his address—notes that actually did not include the famous “I have a dream” section (which was spun on the spot from the heart)—but he did not keep them. What happened to those notes, you ask?

They came into the possession of Villanova alum and College Basketball Hall of Famer George Raveling, class of 1960.

ravelingGeorge Raveling, 10th on Villanova’s all-time rebounding list and the second ever black basketball player at Villanova, was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. He was not only a talented college basketball player, but also went on to be an inspiring coach. He got his coaching start as a part-time assistant to Villanova coach Jack Kraft and later went on to coach full-time for Washington State, the University of Iowa, and the University of Southern California. Since retiring from coaching, Raveling has worked as Director for International Basketball for Nike.

So how did Raveling become the proud keeper of MLK’s speech notes? Raveling and his good friend Warren Wilson were only young men when they decided to go to Washington D.C. for the march in 1963. They were approached by one of the march’s organizers and asked to provide security—and they agreed. Raveling wound up just a few feet from MLK on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He was enthralled by MLK and his message of equality and civil rights. After the speech concluded and the crowd on the steps moved to disperse, he simply asked King, “Can I have that?”

And so they became his.

The notes have since been museum-treated and framed and are stored in a vault for safe-keeping. Raveling does not want to ever sell them, but is interested in their public display; he is currently in talks with various educational and museum groups.

You can read the full Sports Illustrated article on George Raveling and the MLK speech notes here. USA Today also covered the story. To learn more about Raveling’s induction to the College Basketball Hall of Fame, check out this article via VU Hoops.


This article by Michelle Callaghan, former graduate assistant on the Communication and Marketing team, was originally published January 15, 2018. 



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Dig Deeper: Remembering Maya Angelou

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Whenever a public figure passes away, I can expect that for the next few days my social media will be abuzz with articles, remembrances and general mentions of said person. So it has come as no surprise that since Maya Angelou’s death on Thursday May 28 my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds, as well as many other websites and blogs that I frequent, have been brimming with content on the life, works and death of Angelou. However, as I have scrolled through the many posts and tweets in response to Angelou’s life and death over the past few days I have been struck by the genuine outpouring of emotions people are expressing. It felt somehow unique, somehow more personal than the usual “rest in peace” and “they will be missed” messages I usually see.

I was particularly moved by a Facebook post by a good friend of mine who teaches high school English who posted late in the day on the 28th long after all of the initial posts of surprise and sadness had flooded my news feed, she said:

“I spent some time today thinking about what I love so much about Maya Angelou, and I’ve decided it’s the fact that she made me feel powerful, in all the positive connotations of that word.”

Go to Angelou’s Wikipedia page or any site detailing her biography and you can learn that “she published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning more than 50 years” (Wikipedia). And Angelou’s resume was as varied and interesting as her writing. In her lifetime she was a poet, civil rights activist, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, actress and professor, just to name a few of the occupations she held in her 86 years of life.

But put all of that aside; remove the titles, labels, accomplishments and honors, and consider a simple sentence: “She made others feel powerful.”

It’s hard to think of a better epitaph for a woman who once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dig Deeper: Maya Angelou

If you’re interested in learning more about Maya Angelou, we have some resources to recommend:

Books in our catalog written by Maya Angelou

Books about Maya Angelou and critical companions to her works:

 

Maya Angelou’s official website (pretty bogged down right now, may not open due to heavy traffic)

 

Dictionary of Literary Biography (Available through Databases A-Z) has the following entry on Maya Angelou:

Maya Angelou (4 April 1928-). Lynn Z. Bloom

Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers. Ed. Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris-Lopez. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 38. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. p3-12.

 

JStor:

Remembering Maya Angelou: a 1977 interview in The Black Scholar.

 

YouTube:


SarahArticle by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre.


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Last Modified: May 30, 2014