MLK at the University of Chicago during the Civil Rights Era
By Susie Allen and Michael Drapa
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the University of Chicago three times between 1956 and 1966 — a decade that saw significant gains for the civil rights movement. A look back about the landmark events that shaped King's life and work during this transformative era:
The Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that public school segregation is unconstitutional, helping to lay the groundwork for the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. becomes pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to move to the rear of a city bus in Montgomery. King helps coordinate the yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott.
In the midst of the Montgomery boycott, King speaks before 1,600 people at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on “The Declaration of Independence and the Negro.” He states “this is a conflict between the forces of light and dark, and in the end, there will be a victory for justice and democracy because love will triumph.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders federal troops to enforce integration of schools in Little Rock, Ark. The same month, Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first federal civil rights law to pass Congress since Reconstruction.
King delivers a second sermon at Rockefeller Chapel, titled “Remember Who You Are,” in which he states that “every individual must take a stand against injustice and discrimination, wherever it exists.”
More than 200,000 demonstrators join the “The March on Washington” to the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech.
King receives the Nobel Peace Prize, recognized as “the man who has never abandoned his faith in the unarmed struggle he is waging.” The same year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A day after King moves into a Chicago apartment to protest the city’s poor housing conditions, he delivers a speech, titled “The Negro Family: A Challenge to National Action,” at Mandel Hall. King advocates raising and extending the minimum wage and federal aid for black families.
King is killed by assassin James Earl Ray outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where he was helping mobilize support for sanitation workers.
Historical info courtesy of Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute
Originally published on January 9, 2012.