Atlanta, GA — (AP) Anthropology professor Donald Dawes wasn't sure what to make of the several boxes of files marked only with a mysterious "MLK" he uncovered in a basement storage closet at Emory University in Atlanta.
Yellowed notepaper found in the dusty files contained a very rare early draft of Reverend Martin Luther King's immortal "I Have a Dream" speech. Astounded by his find, Dawes carefully reviewed the draft, and found few differences between the copy he held and King's shining vision espoused on The Mall in Washington, D.C. nearly 43 years ago.
Little did he realize, however, the speech he thought he knew so well would have a surprise ending.
Instead of referencing a negro spiritual to close the speech, King praised his love for the teas made from a tree indigenous to the Eastern United States and parts of Canada.
The first draft handwritten finale in fact reads:
"Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty for this sassafras!"The discovery has led some scholars and activists to wonder whether it would tarnish King's legacy. Several warned it could make him appear to be "a total jackass" and "a pale imitation of Dr. Seuss".
But others have found King's ebullient enthusiasm for the beverage charming. "It shows he was a real person." stated B'nai B'rith spokesperson Rebecca Yourkiewicz, "The modern equivalent would be someone exulting 'I'm a Pepper!'"
"This document is a true piece of American history. I think it would make a nice display piece, perhaps with one of Reverend King's teacups." Dawes elaborated. He later lamented the fact that he did not find one of King's teacups in the secret stash.
"The man had an insatiable thirst for justice." Dawes added. "And apparently, at the time he was writing the speech, a pretty darn good thirst for tea as well."