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  • WesternMichiganUniversityArchivesandRegionalHistoryCollectionsandUniversityLibraries

    Dr.MartinLutherKingJr.1963WMUSpeechFound

    MLKatWesternIntroductionThisWebsitehighlightsDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.'s,December18,1963speechatWesternMichiganUniversity.Thepagesincludehistoricalbackground,detailsabouttherecoveryofthetaperecording,transcriptionofthespeechandquestionandanswersession,primarysourcedocuments,andalistoflibraryandInternetsourcesaboutDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.

    Thespeechtranscriptionisimportantforseveralreasons.ItaddstothebodyofknowledgeaboutthedevelopmentofDr.King'sworkandideas.Dr.KingspokeatWMUjustfourmonthsafterhemadehisfamous"IHaveaDream"speech.King'sWMUaddresscontainselementsofearlierspeechesandsermons,includinghisaddressattheFreedomRallyin1957andasermonaboutlovingenemiesthathehadgivenattheDexterAvenueBaptistChurchinMontgomery,Alabama.

    ThespeechtranscriptionisalsoanimportantdocumentforstudyingthecontinuingdialogueaboutracialprejudiceandracerelationsonWestern'scampus.ThespeechtranscriptionandaccompanyingdocumentsprovideadditionalinformationtobetterunderstandDr.King'senduringinfluenceonWestern'scampusthroughtheprogramsandcurriculaestablishedinthelate1960sandthebroadersocietalchangesbroughtaboutbyhisnonviolentmovementforcivilrightsandsocialjusticeforall.

    TheLostTapeThetaperecordingofthelivebroadcastofDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.'sDecember18,1963speechwaslostforalmost30years.ThetapewasrebroadcastatthetimeofDr.King'sassassinationin1968butwaslaterlostuntil1997whenPhillNovesscontactedWMUKgeneralmanager,GarrardMacleod.

    AcopyofKing'saddresshadbeenfoundonareeltoreelmachinethatNovesshadacquiredfromhisgrandfather,PhillipNovess.TheseniorNovessownedasmallgrocerystoreontheeastsideofKalamazooandacceptedthereeltoreeltaperecorderascollateralforgroceriesintheearly1970s.Whenhesoldthegrocerystoreandthetapeplayerhadnotbeenreclaimed,Novesstookithomeandputitinhisbasement.Hegavethetapetohisgrandsonforrestorationpurposes.Novess'business,EclipseMediaGroup,specializesinnoisereductionandrestorationofaudiotapes.NovessrestoredthetapewiththeassistanceofKevinBrown,ofBrown&BrownRecording&MusicProductionsinPortage.

  • WesternMichiganUniversityArchivesandRegionalHistoryCollectionsandUniversityLibraries

    Dr.MartinLutherKingJr.1963WMUSpeechFound

    HistoricalContextDrawnfromhistoricaldocuments,includingnewspaperaccounts,oralhistories,yearbooks,andothersourcesintheArchives,thefollowinginformationisanattempttoplaceDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.'svisitinthecontextofsegregation,racism,andracialrelationsonWestern'scampusupto1963.Itisbynomeansanexhaustiveaccount.

    Foundedin1903asateachertrainingschool,thefirstAfricanAmericanstudentsbegantoenrollatWesternintheteens.Thoughtheirnumbersweresmall,thesestudentsdistinguishedthemselvesoncampus.InterviewswithAfricanAmericanstudentsfromthisperiodrevealtheextenttowhichsegregationexistedonthecampusandintheKalamazoocommunity.AfricanAmericanstudentsroomedatseparateboardinghousesandweretakeninbylocalfamilies.ThereisalsoevidencethattheadministrationconsideredthespecialneedsofAfricanAmericanstudentsseekinghousinginKalamazooandhelpedthemfindaccommodations.

    Westernbeganconstructingresidencehallsforstudentsbythelate1930s.Theroomswerelimitedinnumberandassignmentssegregatedstudentsbyrace,somanyAfricanAmericanstudentscontinuedtoliveinoffcampusroominghouses.Accordingtoseveralinterviews,somemaleAfricanAmericanstudentshadaccommodationsinthecampusgym.Thereisnoevidencethatstudentsquestionedthesepolicies,andthatisnotsurprising,giventhepoweradministratorshadoverstudentbehaviorduringthisperiod.Asfutureteachers,studentsweresubjecttoastrictcodeofbehaviorthatwasmonitoredonandoffcampusatalltimes.Moststudentstodayareshockedtolearnthatfemalestudentsduringthiserafaceddisciplinaryactioniftheywerecaughtnotwearingtheirgloveswhileshoppingdowntown!

    InthepostWorldWarIIyears,Westernstudentsbegantoconsidertheproblemofracialprejudiceinadirectmanner.In1947,theWesternMichiganCollegePlayersperformed"DeepAretheRoots."Theplay'sstoryaboutaBlackWarheroreturningtohishomeintheDeepSouthafterhavingservedhiscountrywithdistinctionhadastrongmessageabouttheproblemofracialprejudice.TheWesternMichiganCollegePlayershadseveraldifficultiesstagingthisproductiononthecampusasitwasthefirstnonprofessionalproductionbyaraciallymixedcastintheUnitedStates.Aboutthesametime,thecampusradiostationbroadcast"AStudyinBlackandWhite"whichwasadramaaboutracerelations.

    Bythe1950s,WesternwaspartoftheMACconferenceandathletesregularlytraveledoutsidetheregionforcompetition.Oneoralhistoryrecountingcampuseventsfromthisperioddescribeshowthetrackteamencounteredracialprejudiceonseveraloccasionswhiletravelinginthesouthtocompete.Coachesandathletestookastanceagainstracialprejudicebyrefusingtopatronizerestaurantsthatwouldnotallowtheentireteamtodinetogether.Ironically,theUniversitysegregatedstudentslivingoncampusinthe1950sbyraceandifaBlackstudentandwhitestudentwantedtoroomtogether,theyhadtosubmitawrittenrequestaswellasaletterofconsentfromeachapplicant'sparents.

  • WesternMichiganUniversityArchivesandRegionalHistoryCollectionsandUniversityLibraries

    Dr.MartinLutherKingJr.1963WMUSpeechFound

    Bytheearly1960s,theissuesofracismandracerelationsbecamearegularpartofcampusdialogueasevidencedbythegrowingnumberoflecturesandperformances.LillianSmith,authorofStrangeFruit,acelebratedbannedbookaboutaninterracialloveaffair,wastheleadingspeakeratWMUforthe1961ReligiousEmphasisWeek.AlsoappearingonthecampusduringthisperiodforaperformanceandtodiscussracismandracerelationswasactivistandsongwriterGuyCarawan.

    Othercampussponsoredeventssoughttobringstudentsofdifferentethnicbackgroundstogethertoaddresstheissueofracerelations.In1962,theAlphaInterestGroup,CampusChristianFellowship,CouncilonHumanRelations,DeltaSigmaTheta,InternationalClub,andKappaAlphaPsisponsoredaretreat"ImageofAmerica"atCrystalSpringsCampinDowagiac,Michigantobringwhite,Black,andinternationalstudentstogethertodiscussnationalandinternationalaffairs,includingracialrelations.

    AmorecontroversialcampuseventwastheSeptember,1963appearanceatReadFieldhousebyprosegregationistMississippiGovernorRossBarnett.WiththesupportofWMUPresidentJamesMillerandStateSuperintendentofPublicInstructionLynnM.Bartlett,theWesternseniorclassinvitedBarnettdespitethestrongreservationsofMichiganGovernorGeorgeRomney.Barnett'scontroversialaddresspromptedamultitudeoflettersintheHeraldformanydaysfollowinghisvisit.

    Dr.King'sinvitationtoaddressWesternMichiganUniversityonDecember18,1963aspartofthe"ConscienceofAmerica"lecturesymposiumwaspartofthecontinuingdialogueaboutracialprejudiceandracerelations.Adistinguishedtheologian,author,andrenownedleaderinthecivilrightsmovement,Dr.Kingwasanobviouschoice.Afterhis1963visit,Dr.Kingcontinuedtohaveaprofoundinfluenceonthecampusthroughtheprogramsandcurriculaestablishedinthelate1960sandthebroadersocietalchangesbroughtaboutbyhisnonviolentmovementforcivilrightsandsocialjusticeforall.

    EffectandResultingProgramsatWMUAfterhisvisitin1963,Dr.Kingcontinuedtohaveaprofoundinfluenceonthecampus.WesternMichiganUniversitystudentsreactedtoKing'sassassinationonApril4,1968inMemphis,Tennessee,andPresidentJamesMillerrespondedtothestudents'demandstoexamineracismonthecampusandintheUniversity'scurricula.

    WithindaysofDr.King'sdeath,PresidentMillerraised$28,000toestablishtheDr.MartinLutherKing,Jr.,Fund.WithadditionalsupportfromtheKelloggFoundation,aprogramcalled"Project73"waslaunched.Beginninginthefallsemester,1968,sixtyWMUfreshmenfromsouthwesternMichiganhighschoolstookpartinthisprogramwhichawardedscholarshipsandprovidedotherassistancetostudents.ThisfundandprogrambecametheMartinLutherKingProgram.Whiletheoriginalprogram

  • WesternMichiganUniversityArchivesandRegionalHistoryCollectionsandUniversityLibraries

    Dr.MartinLutherKingJr.1963WMUSpeechFound

    providedscholarshipassistance,thecurrentfocusoftheMartinLutherKingProgramisencouragementandsupport,includingacademicadvising,vocationalandpersonalcounseling,tutoring,andtesting.

    TheUniversityalsodevelopedtheBlackAmericanaStudiesProgramwhichwasdesignedtoincreasethestudent'sunderstandingofBlackCultureandofBlackHistory.Dr.CarletonLeewasnamedheadoftheBlackAmericanaStudiesProgramwhichwasinitiatedin197071withthreenewundergraduatecoursesandonegraduateseminar.Today,theProgramconsistsofamajorandminorandfifteencourses.

    SpeechExcerptsSegregation

    "Toputitfigurativelyinbiblicallanguage,we'vebrokenloosefromtheEgyptofslaveryandwehavemovedthroughthewildernessoflegalsegregationandnowwestandontheborderofthepromisedlandofintegration.Theoldorderofsegregationispassingaway."

    "Therecanbenogainsayingofthefactthatthesystemofsegregationisonitsdeathbedtoday.Theonlythinguncertainaboutitishowcostlythesegregationistswillmakethefuneral."

    "Economicdeprivation,socialisolation,ignorance,povertybreedcrime,whatevertheracialgroupmaybe,anditisatortuouslogictousethetragicresultsofsegregationasanargumentforthecontinuationofit."

    ChallengetoAction

    "Theworldinwhichweliveisgeographicallyone.Nowwearechallengedtomakeitoneintermsofbrotherhood."

    "Nowthroughourethicalandmoralcommitment,wemustmakeofitabrotherhood.Wemustalllearntolivetogetherasbrothersorwewillperishtogetherasfools.Thisisthegreatchallengeofthehour.Thisistrueofindividuals.Itistrueofnations.Noindividualcanlivealone.Nonationcanlivealone."

    "IcanneverbewhatIoughttobeuntilyouarewhatyououghttobe.YoucanneverbewhatyououghttobeuntilIamwhatIoughttobe.Thisistheinterrelatedstructureofreality."

    "[W]e'rechallengedafterworkingintherealmofideas,tomoveoutintothearenaofsocialactionandtoworkpassionatelyandunrelentinglytomakeracialjusticeareality."

    "[W]emustneversubstituteadoctrineofBlacksupremacyforwhitesupremacy.ForthedoctrineofBlacksupremacyisasdangerousaswhitesupremacy.Godisnotinterestedmerelyinthefreedomof

  • WesternMichiganUniversityArchivesandRegionalHistoryCollectionsandUniversityLibraries

    Dr.MartinLuther