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Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. in Indiana

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Copyright Library of Congress

On Monday, Jan. 18, the History Center – along with our sponsor, HealthNet – is offering  free admission, performances, programs and service opportunities in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In remembrance of the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, I thought it fitting to take a minute to remember King's connection to the Hoosier state. 

King was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. He was thrust into the national spotlight after he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. His peaceful protests and advocating for the equal treatment of all Americans led him to becoming one of the most notable leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. King traveled throughout the country and visited Indiana many times. His most famous visit was in Indianapolis on Dec. 12, 1958. King came to speak at the Senate Avenue Young Men's Christian Association's Monster Meeting. The meeting was to be held at the north side YMCA, but due to King's popularity, a large turnout was expected and the meeting was moved to Cadle Tabernacle, formerly located downtown. More than 4,000 people attended the speech. 

YMCA Group with Martin Luther King
YMCA Group with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Dec. 12, 1958.

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. Less than 500 miles away, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was about to give a campaign speech to a large group in Indianapolis. Kennedy announced the tragic news and called for peace instead of hatred. After news broke across the nation of King's death, riots erupted in every major city of the United States. All, but Indianapolis. Many attribute the peaceful demonstrations in Indianapolis after King's death to Kennedy's words. 

To learn more about King and his ties with Indiana, guests may visit the William H. Smith Memorial Library on Monday, Jan 18.  Wilma L. Moore, IHS senior archivist on African-American History, will be discussing  King and explain how the IHS collections help tell the history of Indiana's black communities.

 

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