DuSable Museum Offers Virtual Reality Experience of MLK’s Historic Speech

As Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech reaches its 57th anniversary this year, the DuSable Museum of African American History shows The March on Washington in a new, revolutionary exhibit.

The March, which opens Feb. 28, puts visitors into The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Through a project by TIME Studios and actor and producer pair Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, the 1963 Washington, D.C., march can be viewed through the power of virtual reality.


The immersive experience includes a 10-minute VR presentation. Before donning the VR masks, the exhibit takes families through the events of the Civil Rights Movement, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott through protests in Birmingham before the 1963 march.

A timed ticket is required, as only four people are allowed in the exhibit at one time. Once the VR equipment is secured, visitors can see the March while hearing King’s iconic speech. Starting near the Washington Monument on the Mall in D.C., a visitor can walk around and see families sitting on the grass. Propelled closer to the edge of the reflecting pool, the outline of King comes into focus before visitors find themselves standing in front of King as he gives his speech.

The project is the brain child of Mia Tramz, TIME’s editorial director of Immersive Experiences.

“In our old offices we had some of the most iconic images from the LIFE archive,” Tramz says. “There’s a photo of Dr. King … that is at the Lincoln Memorial, but six years before The March on Washington, and it was a different speech he gave that has become known as ‘Give Us the Ballot.’ That image was taken standing above and behind him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out over his shoulder at the National Mall. Because it was printed so large, Dr. King appears life-sized in that image. I would walk past it going to meetings and one day I stopped in front of it and I thought, ‘If I recreated The March on Washington, I could give you this perspective and put you into it.’

“That was the beginning of a three-year journey.”

More than 300 people worked, from actors who donned suits to recreate the look of people walking in The March, to technologists, artists and educators, Tramz says.

The project is supported by the King estate, which allowed the reproduction and likeness of Martin Luther King Jr. during the speech. The exhibition will run at DuSable through November.


The March

Opens Feb. 28

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago

Free with museum admission

Find more information at dusablemuseum.org.

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This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s February 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue here.

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