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Villanova's Connection to the March on Washington

As the nation celebrates and looks back on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, we share the tale of how a Villanova Basketball player holds the copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's 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".

Here's Raveling on the experience.

"My role was to make sure we provided security for the speakers and dignitaries that were up there at the podium area. One of the reasons I got the opportunity to volunteer to be security is because they realized there were going to be an extraordinary amount of people there, and they wanted to make sure everything was secure."

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.

Raveling was on the Main Line on Tuesday talking to Villanova athletic coaches about building and maintaining relationships.

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