Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. IN ALBION

Morning Star, June 27, 1993, pg. 1

With the upcoming visit of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Albion on July 16 at Albion College, we are reminded that this is not the first time a celebrated black leader has honored our community with visit. Few Albionites remember that on March 13, during the fateful year of 1963, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Albion. He spoke at Albion College in Goodrich Chapel, in the fourth of a series of six special Albion Lecture-Concert programs.

A near capacity crowd gathered to hear Dr. King, with admission being by season ticket only. King was introduced by Albion College President Louis W. Norris, and spoke on the topic, "The American Dream." In his speech, King warned that "Northern segregation may be more serious," and that "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools." King highlighted examples of discrimination across the country, and described his non-violent direct action program as having the "love ethic" at its center, based on the Greek word agape.

King took questions from the audience during a 30-minute forum period, which dealt with a number of topics. During this time, he stated that "Churches have failed Christ miserably in the assuming of any role of leadership in the battle against racial prejudice. " He also stated that he was opposed to laws forbidding inter-racial marriages, and that there had not been very much of it in areas where it was legally permitted. "The Negro wants to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law," King said. He said it was in the North that many blacks suffered deeper frustration regarding discrimination.

Regarding the Black Muslim movement, King doubted that movement would make much progress "as long as we continue to make progress toward ending segregation," he said.

At the end of his presentation, College President Norris invited the audience to an informal reception at Baldwin Hall in the Mary Sykes room. Norris’ invitation was however, either a slip of the tongue, or a subtle play on words, when he stated, "Dr. King will now answer discriminating questions." About 100 persons attended the reception following the program. How many Albionites today remember the visit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Albion?

How fitting that the same I-94 business route that King traveled through Albion has been named in his memory, lined with beautiful flowers throughout our city. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the familiar M.L.K. Memorial Highway sign at Five Points at the entrance to Albion.


Eaton Street sign

One postscript: Three days after King’s visit, another "big name" of the 1960s arrived in town for a concert at Kresge Gymnasium: the folk group, "Peter, Paul, and Mary."

Next: THE HON. WASHINGTON GARDNER


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