1/18/2016 Peter Durantine

When King Came to Campus

Fifty-three years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived one evening at Franklin & Marshall College to appear before an audience-filled Mayser Gym to talk about civil rights, justice and the nation's destiny.

King's Dec. 12, 1963 speech, according to local newspaper accounts, was spoken to a record-breaking audience of 4,000 to 5,000 people. It was reported he spoke for 45 minutes and without notes.

"The old order of oppression is passing away and the new order of justice and human dignity is coming into being," King told the audience.

The civil rights leader's speech came little more than four months after the historic March on Washington in August 1963 and less than three weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  

As it does every year, the F&M campus honors King's memory this month in several ways. The College hosted a public reading of his writings at Steinman College Center on Jan. 18, the federal holiday that marks his birthday, faculty reflected on his work and words, films were screened and more.  

And F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield took the opportunity to write an op-ed for the Jan. 18 online edition of Forbes magazine in which he discussed a student-led discussion last November about intolerant and offensive language meant to harm.

The following is a slideshow of King's visit to F&M and today's readings of his words:

 

  • The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arriving by car to the F&M campus on the evening of Dec. 12, 1963. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arriving by car to the F&M campus on the evening of Dec. 12, 1963. Image Credit: College Archives
  • Students took time from their classes on Monday, Jan. 18 to read publicly from King's writings. Students took time from their classes on Monday, Jan. 18 to read publicly from King's writings. Image Credit: Timothy Brixius
  • King speaking to a packed house in Mayser Gym, where he said segregation was dying in America: “The system of segregation is on its deathbed and the only question is how costly the segregationists will make its funeral.” King speaking to a packed house in Mayser Gym, where he said segregation was dying in America: “The system of segregation is on its deathbed and the only question is how costly the segregationists will make its funeral.” Image Credit: College Archives
  • College staff also participated in the public readings at Steinman College Center. College staff also participated in the public readings at Steinman College Center. Image Credit: Timothy Brixius
  • A student admission ticket to King's speech in Mayser Gym. A student admission ticket to King's speech in Mayser Gym. Image Credit: College Archives
  • Bands, buttons and badges by which to remember King. Bands, buttons and badges by which to remember King. Image Credit: Timothy Brixius
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