It was snowing on Nov. 29, 1964 as Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before 6,200 people at the University of Dayton Fieldhouse talking about race relations in America.
King told the gathering, "I'm convinced, my friends, that we've come a long, long way. And I am absolutely convinced that the system of segregation is on its deathbed today, and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists will make the funeral."
Now, the University of Dayton is commemorating King's speech and his legacy with a memorial.
"It's important for the University to have a visible memorial to the legacy of Dr. King and his historic speech on campus," says University of Dayton President Daniel Curran in a release. "This memorial will remind future generations of the University of Dayton community of Dr. King's message and his legacy."
Art history professor Roger Crum worked with Marianist brother and associate art professor Gary Marcinowski and associate art and design professor John Clarke on the memorial's design. It's comprised of a black granite pulpit and bench with three bronze chairs.
The University describes the significance of the design this way:
The pulpit is the central feature of religious practice in King's Baptist tradition, which was at the core of the civil rights movement, according to Crum. The chairs represent King and two for the community putting King's message into action. The bench is intended to encourage reflection, especially for small gatherings and classes that might draw inspiration from King's work.
"The memorial commemorates King's visit to campus in 1964 and the daily work of the civil rights movement, but it also establishes an interesting dialogue with and a recollection of the collaboration between socially conscious Marianists and local and national civil rights leaders," Crum says.
"My hope is that when students consider the memorial they will come away with a deeper appreciation that King's biography and the narrative of the civil rights movement were about more than key moments, such as the 'I Have a Dream' speech, or the Selma to Montgomery march, or the garbage workers' strike in Memphis."
The University will dedicate the memorial at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. The dedication will start in Frericks Center and proceed to the memorial.
The recording of King's speech that November evening was thought to be long gone until University of Dayton poet and professor emeritus Herbert Woodward Martin started digging through some boxes in his garage in 2009. An old reel-to-reel tape he found contained most of King's speech for Dayton's Freedom Forum.
Listen below (King begins at the 10:30 mark) or read the transcript.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the @UniversityofDayton in Nov. 1964. A memorial honoring that speech is being unveiled Friday, Feb. 12. Listen to co-artist and Art History Professor Roger Crum explain the significance of the design. (Photo credit: University of Dayton University Communications)
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Feb 11, 2016 at 11:22am PST