PRESS RELEASE: NC State University researchers celebrate the 55th anniversary of MLK’s “Fill up the Jails” historic speech

Contact: Keon Pettiway or Dr. Victoria Gallagher
NC State University Virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Project
Email: or

NC State University researchers celebrate the 55th anniversary of
“Fill up the Jails” by releasing a digital re-creation of MLK’s
historic speech endorsing non-violence as a creative means of protest

RALEIGH, N.C., January 5, 2015 – February 16, 2015 will mark the 55th anniversary of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first public endorsement of non-violent direct action as means to achieve civil and human rights. To celebrate the legacy of MLK’s widely influential “Fill up the Jails” speech,  NC State University’s Virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Project produced a digital audio re-creation of the speech. The speech was recorded during Marvin Blanks’s reenactment earlier this year at White Rock Baptist Church, the original location of the speech (Mr. Blanks is a nationally recognized voice actor known as the “Orator of the Century”) . The speech will be available to public on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at

King’s speech, “A Creative Protest,” encouraged young people to “fill up the jails” in acts of civil disobedience in solidarity with the Woolworth sit-ins that began two weeks earlier in Greensboro. It was the first time Dr. King openly encouraged activists to disrupt and break the law through non-violent confrontation. “If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South. Maybe it will take this willingness to stay in jail to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation,” King stated.

North Carolina has been the location of many historic moments that impacted the country, including the sit-ins in Greensboro, the founding of SNCC, and more recent political action such as the Moral Monday protests. The digital audio re-creation is a timely demonstration of social action where the community can experience the eloquence and force of MLK’s oratory and its enduring applicability for creative action through civil disobedience.

In addition to an audio model of the catalytic speech , the public can experience a multimedia archive, and resources for students and educators. The Project’s larger effort is to develop a 3D immersive, architectural model of the speech environment and an online environment for studying and experiencing the speech. For more information, please visit

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