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LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, students from Long Island could experience one of his speeches for the first time. Unfortunately, the decades-old address was never video recorded. But with the help of technology, the civil rights activist was brought back to life.

Nassau County High School students visited Molloy University for an exhibition tour. It began with historical documentaries of Dr. King, followed by an audio version of his speech. Then students donned Oculus headsets and were transported to White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, NC, in 1960 for an interactive experience. 

Max Renner is the assistant professor of communication and new media. He brought the virtual project from North Carolina State University in honor of the late civil rights leader. 

“We were trying to think about what was a speech that would speak to the current moment and a range of issues, particularly around race,” said Renner.

The address entitled, “A Creative Protest [Fill Up The Jails],” was delivered at the historic church just days after the start of the Greensboro sit-ins. Unfortunately, despite the groundbreaking impacts, there are no speech recordings.

Renner said getting it right was important. The virtual experience was recreated from photos and transformed into an immersive live space with a 360 view. The controls allow the viewer to change seating, offering a different perspective throughout the church. After the virtual experience, students attend a symposium in which they reflect on Dr. King’s powerful message.