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Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Milwaukee at least two times.

King's visits to Milwaukee left permanent mark


In his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King was known for his splendid oratorical abilities and, especially, his remarkable speeches about racism, equality and other issues vital to the civil rights movement. Many of these orations have, rightfully, become famous and oft-quoted.

Dr. King spoke in Milwaukee on a couple occasions. His first speech here was delivered on Aug. 14, 1956. Neither the morning Sentinel or the afternoon Journal ran anything about this visit.

When he returned on Jan. 27, 1964, for a standing-room-only event at the Milwaukee Auditorium, both papers finally took notice. At the Auditorium Dr. King spoke to 6,300 Milwaukeeans for about 40 minutes. Here are some of the highlights:

  • He encouraged people to erase two myths: "Only time can solve the problems of racial integration" and "Civil rights legislation is not important."

  • "It may be true that you cannot legislate morality but behavior can be regulated."

  • "Law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless."

  • "Time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively ... We must help time and we must realize that the time is always right to do right."

  • "We have argued and discussed civil rights enough." He cautioned against getting "bogged down in the paralysis of analysis."

  • "It takes a strong person to be nonviolent. It has a way of disarming the opposition. He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know how to handle it."

  • "We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair the stone of hope."

It is also interesting to note that the FBI reportedly contacted Marquette University on March 4, 1964, telling them not to award an honorary degree to Dr. King. He was, they said, affiliated with communists.

After Dr. King's assassination in April 1968, 15,000 people marched through the streets of Downtown Milwaukee. It remains the largest civil rights demonstration in city history and was among the biggest in the country at the time.

Some places in Milwaukee named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Martin Luther King Library, 310 W. Locust St.: The library features artwork related to Dr. King and his quotations adorn panels throughout the building.

Martin Luther King Elementary School, 3275 N. Martin Luther King Dr. The former Third Street School and later Victor Berger School was renamed for Dr. King in 1992.

Martin Luther King Drive and the Martin Luther King Drive Business Improvement District, 2745 N. Martin Luther King Dr.

Martin Luther King Community Center, 1531 W. Vliet St.

Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center, 2555 N. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Dr.

Talkbacks

beefsupreme | Jan. 16, 2012 at 8:01 a.m. (report)

"injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" google racist drug war.

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OMCreader | Jan. 19, 2006 at 1:42 p.m. (report)

Jon D. said: The epitome of a person growing stonger after being struck down.

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OMCreader | Jan. 17, 2006 at 12:11 p.m. (report)

James K. said: Thank you Michael for your poignant words!

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OMCreader | Jan. 16, 2006 at 3:58 p.m. (report)

Michael John Moynihan said: In memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. No man is an Iland, intire of its selfe: every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine: if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were: any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde: and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee. --John Donne Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the above verse during Nobel Lecture, on December 11, 1964. His lecture was entitled "The Quest for Peace and Justice", delivered in the Auditorium of the University of Oslo, Norway. At the age of thirty-five, he was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. Today is the Monday designated as a American National Holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. King. He was born as Michael Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta on January 15, 1929 (his father was also originally named Michael). He was renamed when he was about 5 years old when his father decided that they should both change their first names to Martin. The authorized, sanitized version of Dr. King's life story is that he fought for racial justice in America. The reality is, in the last years of his life, Dr. King articulated a far bolder, broader and radical American revolutionary vision, encompassing a clear minded analysis and a severe criticism not only of the role of the United States in the world, but of the very nature of our political and economic system. Dr. King's vision was articulated most powerfully in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at Riverside Church in New York City. He gave the speech on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City. He was quickly condemned by the NAACP, civil rights leaders, the Democratic Party (he had campaigned for Lyndon Johnson) and the mainstream media. It is doubtful that Dr. King would even be allowed to speak at any of the memorial events being held in his name were he alive today. But he does speak to us still as we again find ourselves at a time, well as he said in 1967: "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." He also said: "These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions." Others much more experienced and articulate than I have pointed out that these are still revolutionary times. Our country was born of revolution. I would argue that our democracy can only be served by continuing the American Revolution each day. But we have given in and given up. The shirtless and barefoot people of the world continue to rise up. But we do not support them and in fact, in many places, we support and are the very forces who use our overwhelming military power to enforce the conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice. I would suggest that we revisit Dr. Kings words and read them in the light of the present day. "...A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Dr. Kings words are as meaningful, powerful and dangerous as they were in 1967. At least half of adult Americans condemn anyone speaking out against the present invasions and war. Exactly to the day, one year after breaking his silence and speaking out against his nation's injustice, materialism and war waging, Martin Luther King, Jr. was silenced. Assassinated on April 4, 1968. Those who call for us to celebrate his birthday but dishonor his life and work and spirit dishonor all human beings. King spoke well to use Donne's poem to remind us of who we can be, who we need to be. "...therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee." Michael John Moynihan originally written on 01/17/05

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OMCreader | Jan. 16, 2006 at 2:53 p.m. (report)

Jeff said: Martin Luther King was without question one of the greatest Americans that ever lived. His murder and its ramifications were more than the murders of both Kennedy brothers. A man way ahead of his time.

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