mlk

Bentley Historical Library

The University of Michigan celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by holding annual symposiums on campus.

But it seems no one knew of King’s visit to campus in 1962 until an enterprising person at the Bentley Historical Library combed through their collection.

The Michigan Daily picks up the story from here (Haley Goldberg wrote about the discovery in 2012):

National Archives

"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred." - MLK

If you want a moment of reflection today, you could save this for 3 p.m. 

At that time 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His speech came during the centennial of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

Bell-ringing events around Michigan are scheduled for 3 p.m. today. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is helping to coordinate these events. 

Two months before his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Detroit to deliver a version of the speech.

The "Great March to Freedom" took place on June 23rd, 1963. It's being memorialized tomorrow in Detroit.

King called the event "the largest and greatest demonstration for freedom ever held in the United States."

Take a short moment to listen to a clip of the speech at Cobo Hall:

If you have 35 minutes, you can listen to, and read the whole speech here.

And what was it like for those who attended the march and speech?

Producer Zak Rosen put together this piece for our storytelling series called  The Living Room:


screen grab from YouTube video

Last year at this time, I was sifting through YouTube videos of Martin Luther King, Jr. and was amazed at the treasure trove out there.

For some, the man whose words are immortalized, who we celebrate with a holiday, seems untouchable - buried in the pages of history books.

But when you watch these videos, Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to life. As I mentioned last year:

We can watch video of his interviews on Meet the Press. We can see King tell a joke on a talk show. We can see what he said in a speech the night before he was killed, and we can watch Walter Cronkite tell the nation that the man who helped change our society was dead.

Here's another video I came across today. It includes excerpts of an interview King did with NBC correspondent Tom Petit. The interview aired on NBC on May 7, 1967 as part of its program "The Frank McGee Sunday Report: Martin Luther King Profile."

During the interview King explains his reasons for opposing the Vietnam War.

He says he decided to publicly oppose the war after several months of reflection - part of that reflection, he says, took place in Jamaica as he was writing a book.

"I came to the conclusion then, that I had no alternative but to take a vigorous stand against the war."

King said the Vietnam war "is doing a great deal to destroy the lives of thousands and thousands of my brothers and sisters. We are dying physically in disproportionate numbers in Vietnam, some 22 and four tenths percent, even though we are only 11 percent of the population."

The video ends with a excerpt from a speech King gave in Cleveland on April 28,1967 about his decision to oppose the "evil war" in Vietnam.

He says, "And no matter where it leads, no matter what abuses it may bring, I'm gonna tell the truth."

Many people in Michigan are using this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to volunteer.  

In Lansing, volunteers are clearing invasive plant species from the Fenner Nature Center. Brendon Fegan is an Americorps volunteer. He says helping your local community is a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy.  

"Community is vitally important in people’s lives," said Fegan, "You can’t do anything without a strong community.  Look for anyway to give back to your community and help other people.”    

The King holiday is also being marked by marches and church services around Michigan.

Library of Congress

The recent attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords life sparked new debate about the state of public discourse in our country. How could this have happened? What does this type of violence say about us? Have we reached a breaking point?

As the news rolled in, and it appears the violence might have been the work of a mad-man, hearts were still broken, but there seemed to be some relief that the act seemed less about our politics, and more about a lost soul.

Events like these are unsettling, and it often makes me wonder what it was like for Americans when the violence was more directly tied to our political discourse.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis in 1968. Violent riots followed in what surely must've felt like an unraveling of American society.