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martin luther king day

Picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
WMU Archives

Today on Stateside, it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We spoke with a historian about King’s work in Detroit and the legacy it's left behind. Plus, a conversation about the parallels between the civil rights movement of King's era and the continued fight for racial justice today. 

Martin Luther King Jr marching in Detroit
WALTER P. RUETHER LIBRARY / WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

On June 23, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. stood in Detroit and spoke about a dream. It was a fraught moment in the history of the American civil rights movement. Noted civil rights activist Medger Evers had been murdered by a white supremacist just days earlier.

We talked to Detroit historian Ken Coleman, author of On This Day: African-American Life in Detroit and writer for Michigan Advance, about MLK Jr.’s visit to the city. 

Picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
WMU Archives

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but Tuesday, communities across the state and country will celebrate the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Fourth National Day of Racial Healing.

La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, says all the events are modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of racial harmony.

MLK and Robert Green
WikiImages / Michigan State University

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday honoring the life and work of one of the most dedicated and celebrated leaders of the civil rights movement. It falls on the third Monday of each January to mark King’s birthday, which is January 15. This year, he would have been 90 years old.

A detail Michigan congressional district maps drawn in 2011.
Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget

Today on Stateside, how recent developments in a federal gerrymandering lawsuit could shift some Michigan congressional and state legislative districts ahead of the 2020 election. Plus, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we hear from Michigan State University Dean Emeritus Robert Green about his experiences working alongside Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Michigan connections

Jan 21, 2019
Martin Luther King Jr marching in Detroit
WALTER P. RUETHER LIBRARY / WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

There will be lectures, marches, and celebrations across the state recognizing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. The federal holiday marks King’s birthday, January 15th.

The nation celebrates it on the third Monday of January. This year, he would have been ninety years old.

YouTube

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis in 1968. Violent riots followed in what surely must've felt like an unraveling of American society.

Like a lot of people, I only know about King through books, pictures, or perhaps a grainy video of the "I Have a Dream Speech."

Today, we can see and hear King in ways we couldn't before.

We can watch video of his interviews on Meet the Press:

What MLK day should mean

Jan 15, 2018
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Cobo Hall Detroit, June 23, 1963.
50th Anniversary Freedom Walk Facebook Page

Today is not only the Martin Luther King federal holiday, but Dr. King’s actual birthday. Had he not caught that bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel half a century ago, he might still be with us.

John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in our history, is still very much alive, and sending daily tweets about the insanity that is Washington today.

King at Grosse Pointe South High School, March 14, 1968.
via Grosse Pointe Historical Society

In March of 1968, Martin Luther King  Jr. came to Grosse Pointe, a nearly all-white Detroit suburb.

He gave a speech at Grosse Pointe South High School called “The Other America.” Three weeks later, he was shot and killed.

This past weekend, people gathered in that same gym to hear a recording of that speech. Nearly 50 years later, it still strikes a powerful chord.

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Today's silent march in Ypsilanti.
Courtesy of Lynne Settles

There is extra special importance to this Martin Luther King Day in Ypsilanti.

Remarkably, it was 150 years ago on this day that abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass spoke in Ypsilanti – one of three visits Douglass made to the town.

Today, Ypsilanti High School students are marking both MLK Day and the Douglass visit with a silent march to the site of that speech that happened in 1867. In commemoration, they’re also opening an art exhibit.

Walter P. Ruether Library / Wayne State University

Two months before his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marchers down Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

Rev. King famously called the March “the largest and greatest demonstration for freedom ever held in the United States.”

Over 125,000 people participated in the “Detroit Walk to Freedom” on June 23, 1963. The March was partially a practice run for the historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

What would Martin Luther King Jr. say?

Jan 16, 2017

For many Americans, the life of Martin Luther King Jr. means mostly that they get a day off from work or school, a day in which the banks are closed and the mail doesn’t come.

They may also know him as a one-dimensional icon of the civil rights movement, who repeatedly said “I have a dream,” during some famous speech a long time ago, and also said, “I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get to the promised land,” and then got shot.

MLK, Jr. at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.
Bentley Historical Library

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Events are planned around Michigan to honor Martin Luther King Jr., including appearances by the mother of Trayvon Martin.

Sybrina Fulton is scheduled to speak Monday at Grand Valley State University's Fieldhouse Arena and Grand Rapids Community College's Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. Her 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, sparking widespread protests.

MLK, Jr. at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.
Bentley Historical Library

The University of Michigan celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by holding annual symposiums on campus.

But it seems no one knew of King’s visit to campus in 1962 until an enterprising person at the Bentley Historical Library combed through their collection.

The Michigan Daily picks up the story from here (Haley Goldberg wrote about the discovery in 2012):

Detroit Public Schools worked to draw district alumni back to their
old schools for this Martin Luther King Day.

Thirty schools across the city are participating in the national day
of service, and former students are invited to join in.

Spokesman Steve Wasko said the district was searching for a way to
draw DPS alumni back to their former schools.

biography.com

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Events across Michigan this week are honoring the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th anniversary of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Michigan State University's College of Music is hosting two free concerts honoring King on Sunday at Wharton Center's Pasant Theatre in East Lansing. The concerts will feature pop, soul and gospel hits from the 1960s and 1970s at 3 and 7 p.m.

Detroit Public Schools is launching a day of service to celebrate King's birthday Monday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people descended on Detroit’s Martin Luther King, Junior high school Monday morning for a march honoring the civil rights leader.

It was just one of many events honoring Dr. King that took place around Metro Detroit.

Hundreds of people came out for the third annual Detroit Public Schools-sponsored march, many of them students. But some adults, like Alicia Gassiamo, came to honor a figure whose sacrifices they say made a real difference in their lives.