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On a snowy night at the University of Dayton Fieldhouse in 1964, civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a crowd of more than 6,200 on race relations in America, housing, his commitment to nonviolence and the power of unconditional love.

The University will commemorate King's speech and honor his legacy in perpetuity with a memorial located near the Immaculate Conception Chapel and the Frericks Center, formerly the University of Dayton Fieldhouse, where King delivered the speech. The University will dedicate the memorial at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. The dedication will start in Frericks Center and proceed to the memorial.

"It's important for the University to have a visible memorial to the legacy of Dr. King and his historic speech on campus," said University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran. "This memorial will remind future generations of the University of Dayton community of Dr. King's message and his legacy."

Curran's office and the office of Interim Provost Paul Benson sponsored the project in support of the University's commitment to diversity and social justice.

Art history professor Roger Crum initiated the project as Graul Chair in Arts and Languages, spurred by his commitment to establishing a notable and permanent marker on campus of King's visit and speech. He worked with Marianist brother and associate professor of art M. Gary Marcinowski on its concept and design. John Clarke, associate professor of art and design, designed the typography for the inscriptions on the memorial.

The trio's design stems from King's religious and ministerial roots as well as their discussions with members of the University community and local civil rights leaders. It features a black granite pulpit and bench with three bronze chairs. 

The pulpit is the central feature of religious practice in King's Baptist tradition, which was at the core of the civil rights movement, according to Crum. The chairs represent King and two for the community putting King's message into action. The bench is intended to encourage reflection, especially for small gatherings and classes that might draw inspiration from King's work.

"The memorial commemorates King's visit to campus in 1964 and the daily work of the civil rights movement, but it also establishes an interesting dialogue with and a recollection of the collaboration between socially conscious Marianists and local and national civil rights leaders," Crum said. "My hope is that when students consider the memorial they will come away with a deeper appreciation that King's biography and the narrative of the civil rights movement were about more than key moments, such as the 'I Have a Dream' speech, or the Selma to Montgomery march, or the garbage workers' strike in Memphis.

"Instead, the memorial's meaning is that the movement was more fundamentally about the daily work of communicating a developing message, much like King did when he spoke on campus in 1964."

In December 2014, the University also commemorated King's speech by reflecting on race relations and social justice issues in America. Herbert Martin, professor emeritus, read excerpts of the Nov. 29, 1964, speech transcribed from the only known audio recording. In 2009, filmmaker David Schock discovered the tape in a box from Martin's garage, while working on a documentary about Martin. Schock returned the tape to Martin, who donated it to the University. To listen to the speech, review a transcript and learn about the discovery of these materials, please visit the related articles.


News and Communications Staff