PGA’s Bob Denney Helped Preserve MLK ‘Dream’ Speech

The above CBS story tells how George Raveling ended up with one of America’s most-famous speeches. And how Bob Denney came to hold the speech in his hands and have it placed in a protective frame.

BOB DENNEY, A SENIOR WRITER for the PGA of America, is passionate about golf history. I know this firsthand. I’ve read his stories and tweets. I also had lunch with Bob in early May near PGA headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We talked about the legends of the game and other historical topics. It was great fun.

But Bob’s love of history began long before he arrived at the PGA of America.

A few decades ago when he was an Iowa sports writer, Bob unwittingly became a part of American history. He interviewed George Raveling, the men’s basketball coach for University of Iowa, and in the process learned that Raveling possessed Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Here’s an excerpt of the Raveling-Denney story at

[Raveling] volunteered to assist in the March on Washington back in 1963, and was assigned to help with security on the podium during the speeches. That put him very close to Dr. King and, when King finished speaking, Raveling asked if he could have the speech.

King gave it to him. Raveling took it home, tucked it into an autobiography of Harry S. Truman, and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward a couple of decades to 1984, and Denneythen a newspaper reporter in Iowainterviewed Raveling on the significance of becoming the first African-American head hoops coach for the Hawkeyes. He asked Raveling whether he’d been involved in the Civil Rights movement, and Raveling told him the story.

Denney asked if he still had the speech. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And even at that point, it still didn’t dawn on me there was anything unusual about it,” Raveling told [CBS’ James] Brown. “And so he got all excited, he said, ‘Well, where is it?'” 

Raveling retrieved the book out of his basementand there was the speech, folded in half, slightly discolored but still in good shape.

Denney borrowed the speech, and wrote his articleand, as a gift, had the speech framed for Raveling. It remains in that same frame today.

The above CBS video featuring George Raveling and the speech is definitely worth a look. Bob Denney appears at the five-minute mark.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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