Many commemorated King in D.C. and around the U.S. on Wednesday. What many don't know is that another local civil rights leader helped inspire King's "I Have a Dream" speech. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more on this story.
BERKSHIRE COUNTY, Mass. -- Thousands gather in Washington to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous speech 50 years ago. His words have touched thousands of people across the country. But King was influenced by another famous civil rights pioneer who grew up in Great Barrington.
"Certainly in terms of the supreme intellectual of the movement, it would have to be W.E.B. Du Bois," said Randy Weinstein, founder of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Great Barrington.
Du Bois dove into the civil rights movement. After becoming the first African American to graduate with a doctorate from Harvard, he went on to co-found the NAACP.
"Du Bois' middle name was activism. He couldn't sit still for long. He wrapped himself around causes, and he pursued them relentlessly," said Weinstein.
Perhaps, one of Du Bois' most significant achievements was his writing. He wrote several books and essays, pushing for equal rights for African Americans.
"Through the essays he wrote and the articles he wrote, he really put a pulse on racial America. And he had some things to say about it," said Weinstein.
His words captured the attention of one reader who became one of America's most important civil rights leaders.
"King as a youngster growing up read Du Bois' works and it fired him. It inspired him. He understood what it meant to be a crusader," said Weinstein.
Du Bois died on August 27, 1963, a day before the March on Washington.
"King was very upset about that because after all, Du Bois, through his writing mentored him," said Weinstein.
But Du Bois' legacy continues to live on in his writings, which many continue to study.