1963. It is a year stamped as one of the most turbulent during the Civil Rights movement. Centuries of racial oppression were confronted with peaceful protests challenging segregation laws. Responses to protests were often met with brutality. Four young girls were murdered in a church bombing. Police dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on adolescents in Birmingham, Alabama. Medgar Evers was assassinated by a member of the KKK.
1963 also included the March on Washington, highlighted by Dr. Martin Luther King’s uplifting “I Have a Dream” speech. Civil Rights conflict was not contained to the South.
Similar battles were waged throughout the nation. The future Nobel Peace Prize winner accepted an invitation from a close friend to speak in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on June 5, 1963, to address these struggles.
Although Dr. King’s speech was enthusiastically received by his supporters, resistance to his appearance in this conservative, blue-collar Midwestern city were also plentiful. Bomb threats were delivered. Letters to the editor were submitted expressing opposition to Dr. King’s visit. Protestors picketed across the street during the event. Local law enforcement feared violence was possible.
June 5, 1963 would become Dr. King’s only visit to Fort Wayne. But the legacy of that one visit continues to resonate, sandwiched between unrest in Birmingham, and the March on Washington.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Christopher Elliott is a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he works as a high school history teacher. He developed an interest in history as an adolescent, including a passion for the Civil Rights movement. Chris, his wife, and teenage son still reside in the Summit City. Chris is also the proud stepfather to three adult stepchildren, plus one grandchild. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling, and sports.
PUBLISHER: America Through Time
SERIES: America Through Time
DIMENSIONS: 6 (w) x 9 (h)