Remembering MLK Jr’s Visit to Kalamazoo & Speech At WMU
Just 4 months after Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, he made a visit to Kalamazoo and delivered yet another beautiful speech to the faculty, students, and administration of Western Michigan University.
Dr. King made his trip to speak to the Broncos on December 18, 1963, after missing his initial visit that he planned for December 2 of that year. After acknowledging and apologizing for his tardiness due to illness, he went on to deliver a beautiful speech about change and the trajectory of the world.
Dr. King would come to share a unique speech with the pupils of WMU at the time as his speech was a combination of past speeches and sermons. The most noticeable from the aforementioned would be the Freedom Rally speech in 1957 and a sermon he gave at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
He would go on to explain how loving those that have treated you wrong is how change comes about, his time in Africa and the changes that part of the world was seeing, and so much more to help further the advancement of African Americans and civil rights in America.
He left a lasting impact on WMU as they protested against his death, fought for changes to be made on campus, and started the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fund. With support from the Kellogg Foundation, "Project 73" was launched. While the original program provided scholarship assistance, the current focus is encouragement and support, including academic advising, vocational and personal counseling, tutoring, and testing.
Now, as we can all imagine, he spent some time roaming around the city and nearby areas, taking in the atmosphere and visiting some of our favorite spots. Granted, at the young ripe age of 23, I have no clue what Kalamazoo looked like at the time and where he would've been directed to visit.
On that same note, being naive to the structure of our city at the time, there's a possibility that he was barred from some establishments as well. We are forever thankful for Dr. King and his efforts to make the country and world a better place.