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Washington Post Editor: We Blew It On MLK's 'I Have A Dream' Speech

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MARCH ON WASHINGTON
The civil rights leader Martin Luther KIng (C) waves to supporters 28 August 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC during the 'March on Washington'. (AFP/Getty Images) | Getty

Fifty years after Martin Luther King Junior's iconic "I Have A Dream" speech, The Washington Post published a mea culpa for failing to recognize its significance at the time.

On Saturday, Robert G. Kaiser, a former managing editor at The Washington Post and current associate editor and senior correspondent, authored an op-ed describing how the paper "blew it."

Kaiser, who was then a summer intern, was one of 60 staffers assigned to cover the 1963 March on Washington. Many people expected a riot. When it didn't materialize, the paper was caught off-guard. While the lead story stressed that participants had remained 'orderly,' it failed to mention King or his history-making speech:

In that paper of Aug. 29, 1963, The Post published two dozen stories about the march. Every one missed the importance of King’s address. The words “I have a dream” appeared in only one, a wrap-up of the day’s rhetoric on Page A15 — in the fifth paragraph. We also printed brief excerpts from the speeches, but the three paragraphs chosen from King’s speech did not include “I have a dream.”

In comparison, the New York Times led with "I have a dream" on its front cover. Reporter James Reston wrote that King "touched all the themes of the day, only better than anybody else."

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