From the Sun Sentinel, By Johhny Diaz:


Before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in South Carolina on Nov. 14, 1966, he scribbled some notes in the margins of a typewritten outline.

That annotated outline is on display at Raptis Rare Books in Palm Beach.

“It’s a piece of history,” said Matthew Raptis, who opened the bookstore on Worth Avenue last November with his wife, Adrienne. He said he privately acquired the outline last year. He has listed it for $30,000.

The manuscript is matted and framed with a photograph of the civil rights leader. In his honor, the third Monday of each January is a federal holiday near his birthday. This year, the holiday, which is marked with parades and ceremonies, falls on Jan. 16. He was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

“We are looking at something that has impacted African Americans not only in the South but all over the world,” Raptis said of the four page outline, which shows King’s elegant cursive handwriting in blue ink and some of his poetic prose. It also provides some insights into what the civil rights leader may have been thinking at the time. Some notations seem critical.

In the outline, King described the progress blacks made in segregation and voting rights over the previous 12 to 14 years, which included the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. King had served as a spokesman for the city’s African-American population against the racial segregation of the public bus system.

“The greatest victory of this period was what it did to the psyc[h]e of the Negro. New dignity and destiny. We came out of this period only slightly integrated in the external society, but powerfully integrated within. We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect, and our adversaries tasted the gall of defeat.”

In regards to the victories in the South, King noted that they did nothing “to improve the lot of the millions of Negroes in the teeming ghettoes of the north” and that the movement “did not defeat the monster of racism.”

And he also jotted down that the fight for racial equality “is like curving around a mountain when you are approaching a city. Often, it feels as though you are moving backwards and you lose sight of your own goal; but in fact, you are moving ahead, and soon you will see the city again, closer by.”

Also in the margin is a typed note, “Slogans are necessary.” He added in ink, “but they backfire.”

Raptis will have the outline on display by the entrance of the store for the next few weeks. A draft of the full speech is 30 pages long. It’s available online at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (, the Atlanta-based nonprofit that was started by King’s widow Coretta Scott King in 1968 to memorialize his legacy.



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