MLK 1968 at K-State-The Dreamer Speaks Again: An exciting surprise.
(Update click HERE)
The city has a lot of new events: Get the Kids involved!
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|See the Turrets of the Old Stadium near Ahearn behind Dr. King?|
In retrospect, King's visit and speech was an important event in K-State's history and King's legacy. On April 4, 1968, less than three months after his trip to K-State, he would be assassinated in Memphis. How King's visit was accepted by K-Staters and the people of Manhattan is a matter of opinion. Certainly James McCain, president of Kansas State University (1950-1975), held a strong belief in freedom of speech and that a university should offer its students and faculty the opportunity to hear people from different walks of life and other countries to express their diverse viewpoints, as indicated above. McCain later admitted that he received criticism for allowing King to speak on campus, just how much is not known. One negative letter was uncovered in his presidential papers that denounced him for inviting "the Communist stooge" to K-State, one that the "negroe community now recognizes as a phony." However, in 1986 several former faculty members who were present at King's lecture reflected in a K-State news release how well King was received on campus and the favorable reactions to his message.
The year 1968 was especially noteworthy in K-State history. Not only was Dr. King assassinated a few weeks after he spoke on campus, so was Senator Robert F. Kennedy. On March 18, Kennedy made his first public speech at K-State after announcing that he was a candidate for the presidency (the University of Kansas also claims that distinction but Kennedy spoke here in the morning and at KU later in the day!). Kennedy died from an assassin's bullet on June 6 after winning the presidential primary in California. Ironically, while serving as Attorney General of the United States in 1963, Kennedy gave J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI permission to tap King's telephone to determine if he was involved in Communist activities. Apparently Kennedy's approval was for a limited basis and a brief period of time but Hoover took it upon himself to monitor King's activities more extensively and for an extended period. Both King and Kennedy addressed the Vietnam War in their remarks at K-State. The conflict drew the attention of President McCain and his administration for several years; the most visible example was the burning of Nichols Gym, also in 1968 (on Friday the 13th of December!), apparently at the hands of arsonists opposed to the war (the responsible parties were never arrested).
...He reinforced his stance on confronting the plight of the Negro by non-violent means because it "...is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity." At the same time, he stated he would be "...as vigorous in condemning the continued existence of intolerable conditions in our society..." He offered his views on how inequality should be addressed including the passage of legislation to address illegal behavior because the country had a debt to pay the American Negro whose ancestors were brought here in slavery and had not been allowed to obtain all the qualities of freedom through a myriad of discriminatory practices.
King felt the situation was enhanced by the Vietnam conflict taking place at the time. He explained how the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson was using the war to divert attention from civil rights and poverty. He answered those who criticized his opposition to the administration's war policy by stating he could not support the war even if that meant jeopardizing his integration efforts. Instead, it was a matter of right and wrong and it was wrong to be involved in a war that could not be won. According to King it was a war where the U.S. government spent $500,000 for every Viet Cong killed versus spending $53 for an American living in poverty.
Tony Crawford, University Archivist
You can see lots of pics and videos from last year's celebration HERE and HERE