This weekend marked the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
On July 31, 1966, Dr. King spoke before a crowd of nearly 5,000 at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of NC State University. Events of that day show the conflicts that still prevailed in North Carolina on the road to civil rights.
King was greeted warmly by his audience after an official welcome by City Councilman John Winters and an introduction by Dr. James A. Cheek, president of Shaw University. His address was interrupted 33 times by applause.
There was no heckling during the 50-minute speech, nor any sign of anti-civil rights activity in or near the Coliseum. A Ku Klux Klan rally in downtown Raleigh was breaking up when the program in the Coliseum started belatedly with hymns by a 100-voice choir.
King said that North Carolina "has been reasonable at many points in the transition (but) it always amazes me that a state which is one of the most liberal in the South can have the largest Ku Klux Klan marches and rallies." --- The News & Observer 8/1/1966
The Klan rally, intending to upstage the civil rights leader, took place in Nash Square earlier that day.
The Klan's day began when about 1,500 gathered at Memorial Auditorium to don their white robes about 2 p.m., two hours before Dr. King was scheduled to speak.
With a number of women and children in the line, the Klan marched up Salisbury Street, turned west on Hargett Streed and entered Nash Square across from the Municiapal Building.
After the speeches in the square, the Klan marched up McDowell Street to Hillsboro Street and then east to the State Capitol and down Fayetteville Street to Memorial Auditorium. -- The News & Observer 8/1/1966