In this current climate of persistent heated discourse, it can be easy to forget that there was a time when one well-delivered speech could change hearts and minds. Such a speech was delivered inside the sanctuary of Durham’s White Rock Baptist church in 1960.
It was the first time Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated the Southern Conference Leadership
Committee’s full support of the student sit-in movement in Greensboro. There is no known recording of what is now commonly referred to as the “Fill Up the Jails” speech, and the original sanctuary of White Rock Baptist was razed in 1967 in the name of urban renewal. But researchers at North Carolina State University have produced a digital recreation of the speech and a virtual reality experience of its delivery with the help of people who were there that night, a voice actor, a body actor and a whole lot of technology.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Vicki Gallagher, professor in NC State’s department of communication and Derek Ham, assistant professor in NC State’s College of Design about the historical and rhetorical importance of the speech and the ways in which technology can be used to recover history and bring the study of the humanities into the digital age. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the speech, the Virtual MLK project will be on display for the public at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.