Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most famous speeches in the nation's history 50 years ago, but you'd never have known it by picking up the Washington Post the next day. In all its coverage of the civil rights march of Aug. 28, 1963, the words "I have a dream" appeared just once, in the fifth paragraph of a story on page A15, writes associate editor Robert G. Kaiser in the Post today. Even more astonishing, the paper printed excerpts from the speeches that day, but the few paragraphs picked for the King excerpt did not include the phrase, either.
Kaiser was a summer intern for the newspaper back then, and he recounts how the city editor and main reporter covering the event simply failed to recognize the significance of King's speech. "I’ve never seen anyone call us on this bit of journalistic malpractice," writes Kaiser. "Perhaps this anniversary provides a good moment to cop a plea. We blew it." Click for his full column. (Or read about why it remains difficult to this day to hear the speech in its entirety.)