clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Villanova and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK is an important person in this nation's history, Villanova has important ties to his most important speech.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., half-length portrait, facing front. Donated in the public domain by NYWT&S staff.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., half-length portrait, facing front. Donated in the public domain by NYWT&S staff.
Library of Congress

It's a story that I've already posted, but on Martin Luther King Day, I like to take a moment to retell the quick story of former Villanova player George Raveling's tie to Dr. King and the "I Have a Dream Speech".

In August of '63, Rav was in DC to be a part of the March on Washington. Someone, noting his size, approached him & fellow 'Nova player Warren Wilson and asked them to provide security for Dr. King. Raveling & Wilson accepted the offer and found themselves within arm’s reach of King when he delivered "the speech".

Following the speech, Rav asked Dr. King if he could have the copy of the speech, and without hesitation, he received it. That original typed copy resides in Rav’s safe deposit box today.

As we know, George Raveling has gone on to a very historic career in basketball coaching as an assistant on the 1984 Olympic Team and then as Head Coach at Washington State, Iowa, and USC.

So why isn't that original manuscript in a museum or someplace on display for the public to view?

A few years ago, Raveling decided the notes - which could have fetched him millions - belonged in the Martin Luther King Museum in Atlanta. He called to tell his story and asked to donate the notes to the museum with a single caveat. He simply wanted the plaque to read, "Notes donated by George H. Raveling." In a shocking reply, the museum representative was less than kind and rebuffed the offer.

Raveling's story isn't the only connection between Villanova University and Dr. King, just the most interesting. Villanova was able to host the civil rights leader on January 20, 1965, for a speech at the Villanova Field House

Fresh from winning the Nobel Peace Prize, he made his first appearance on the Main Line, to talk at a University forum about "the Challenges of a New Age," according to the Villanovan.

Today is a special day for our nation, besides remembering Dr. King and the inauguration of President Obama, it is the National Day of Service. If you are on campus today, Villanova will be celebrating Dr. King's legacy in a number of ways.

If you can, make sure to give back to your community- you may be a part of something big like Rav was.