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Former Hawkeye head coach has piece of MLK history

George Raveling was Iowa’s first African-American head coach.

The Hawkeye state – and Iowa Hawkeye basketball – have an obscure and surprising connection to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech.

The original typed draft of the speech that Dr. King read from on that day in Washington D.C. spent two decades hidden in the pages of a book owned by former Hawkeye basketball coach George Raveling.

Raveling, who is now an executive at Nike after coaching stints at Iowa (1983-1986) and USC (1986-1994)was a recent college graduate and active in the civil rights movement in 1986. He answered a call for volunteers to work security at the rally where King gave the speech that August during the march on Washington.

Raveling ended up on the podium, just to King’s left. In a 2013 interview with CBS News, Raveling said he was so moved by the message in the speech, he made a bold request.

“People started to stand and I walked over and he was just folding the paper and I said, ‘Dr. King, can I have that  copy of the speech?'” Raveling recalled. “And he turned and handed it to me.”

It wasn’t until more than 20 years later, in 1984, when a reporter was asking Raveling about the significance of being the first African-American coach in Iowa basketball history and whether he had been active in the civil rights movement when he recalled what he’d done with such a significant piece of American history.

“I told the (reporter) the story and he said, ‘You have the speech!?'” – and they found it right where Raveling left it – tucked inside a biography of President Harry Truman.

Raveling eventually had the typewritten speech – which interestingly doesn’t actually have the words “I have a dream” in it, that was ad-libbed – framed and keeps it in a bank vault. The ex-coach has reportedly been offered as much as $3.5 million for the copy, but he doesn’t plan on selling it.

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