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Rarely seen King papers displayed in Atlanta

By Errin Haines
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — The words of Martin Luther King Jr. are as inspiring today for Shirley Franklin as they were when she saw him deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Monument in Washington in 1963.

That makes it especially important to Franklin, Atlanta’s first female mayor, that his papers be returned to the city where he spent most of his life.

An early draft of King’s famous speech and more than 600 of his other personal documents are going on display for the first time in Atlanta on Monday, King’s 78th birthday.

“Atlanta is really embracing its own history by embracing Dr. King and his legacy,” Franklin said. “People will see the papers and be able to relate to them and experience the movement through Dr. King’s eyes and through his words.”

The exhibit is a glimpse at the collection of more than 10,000 King papers and books that Franklin helped privately acquire for $32 million last summer from Sotheby’s auction house. The mayor pulled off the 11th-hour deal with the help of more than 50 corporate, government and private donors to give the papers to Atlanta’s Morehouse College, where King graduated in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

The Atlanta History Center, where the exhibit will be open until May 13, is anticipating widespread interest of the papers. Until now, the collection has only been displayed at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, both last summer and in 2003, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when King delivered his “Dream” speech.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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