“I heard the speech live on black and white tv and I was only 14 at the time and I thought it was the greatest speech I ever heard in my lifetime,” said historic artifacts collector Brent Ashworth.
The most famous speech from the Civil Rights Movement was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while addressing 250,000 people at the National Mall with his dream.
But to truly understand its significance, Historic Artifacts Collector Brent Ashworth takes us back to 1850.
“To think people had a price put on them and they were freely bought and sold in this country,” said Ashworth.
He has an original estate document that lists the worth of 20 slaves.
“Duke is listed at $1200 and Dan as well probably because they were young workers. Moses is only valued at $200 probably because he was a young man or an old man and they didn't value him as much,” said Ashworth.
President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. The 13th Amendment Abolished Slavery. But equality still remained in the distance.
“These old signs from Montgomery in 1931 during the depression and this one from 1939 show restroom signs that say whites and colored. Also, drinking fountains signs from 1931 that say whites and colored. It's amazing it’s that recent,” said Ashworth.
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in 1955. Parks signed a typed statement of her bus ride cut short.
“The statement was typed out and she signed it and she wrote all over. She was proud of what she had done,” said Ashworth.
That sparked a little known preacher Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to take up the fight for Civil Rights.
“Dr. King's speech where he spoke from the heart where he talked about his dreams for his children and other children in America being together and being on an equal footing,” said Ashworth.
And one of the most coveted and impressive items, Dr. King’s last letter.
“My dear brothers and sisters, it is a great privilege to have an opportunity to greet you. It has been my good fortune to meet your pastor Reverend Joseph House. He has been a real help to the struggling workers of Memphis,” said Dr. King.
The letter was written about black sanitation workers who were being paid 80% less than their white counterparts. It’s a handwritten letter on hotel stationary. The same hotel with the balcony where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. These items depict the scarred past of a nation. A nation’s history of fighting for ethnic, racial, gender, and religious equality. Fast forward 40 years, to what many call the partial fulfillment of Dr. King’s Dream, the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Ashworth collects the priceless artifacts because of his love for history. The same history he hopes won’t repeat itself again. And he says Utahns must realize that Dr. King’s efforts allowed for religious freedoms just as much as they did for ethnic equality.