Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Project (vMLK)

The Virtual MLK Project is an immersive digital experience of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "A Creative Protest (Fill Up the Jails)" speech which was delivered at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, NC in February 1960. The project is displayed in virtual reality, large scale video walls, immersive audio, and a simulation experience.


This project is a collaboration with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Design, and the Libraries. Many faculty, students, and staff have contributed. You can view a timeline of contributions here.

The vMLK project began in 2013, where investigators wanted to inform and engage North Carolinians with Dr. King’s “A Creative Protest” - with only a pamphlet of the speech available. Since 2013, the project, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, North Carolina Humanities Council, and NC State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Design, and University Libraries, has incorporated numerous avenues and modes of engagement, including:

Through digital and audio technology, the vMLK project continues to strive towards:

  • Documenting and recovery of the history and everyday experience of African American/Black life
  • Innovating the use of digital tools to provide audiences with historical and cultural knowledge
  • Providing audiences with sound-centered experiences of civic and political engagement and transformation
  • Providing pedagogical materials for teachers and students in the areas of civil rights history, social studies, public address and visual/digital rhetoric

The vMLK project has been incorporated into the Communications 110 Public Speaking course. Each semester, hundreds of students visit the Libraries to view, listen, and experience the speech in community with their peers.


How We Did It

Centering on the capacities and capabilities of digital humanities, the vMLK project began with interest in digital accessibility -  and the challenge of having the speech only documented via a pamphlet. 

Inspired by the Libraries' investment in digital scholarship capacities and resources, including especially our field-shaping work in visualization technologies and spaces, we contributed to vMLK through:

  • assistance with virtual reality development
  • consultation and production of content for our large scale immersive displays
  • hosting of exhibitions and events for community and public engagement and access
  • provide consistent pedagogical support and integration for undergraduate courses in public speaking and rhetoric