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‘There Is A Need To Stand Up:’ In 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoke At SMU

Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at SMU in 1966.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, recalling his visit to SMU, exploring events across Dallas-Fort Worth that honor him, and more.

Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared at SMU nearly 50 years ago, making a speech to a standing-room-only audience in a 2,700-seat auditorium. The Dallas Morning News explored that “seldom noted chapter of SMU history” in March 1966 in Sunday’s newspaper. “In the front row were SMU trustees, including Bill Clements, who would one day be Texas governor. ‘There is a need to stand up,’ King said in the speech recorded by an audience member. ‘There is a need for all people of good will in this nation to become involved participants, for all too long we have had silent onlookers. But now there must be more involved participants to solve this problem and get rid of this one huge wrong of our nation.’” Listen to the speech here. Read excerpts of his speech here. Read the transcript of the speech here.

  • If Martin Luther King, Jr. were speaking at a march on Washington today, what would he say? That was the topic of Friday's Gardere 2014 MLK Jr. Oratory Competition. Eight Dallas ISD students addressed a crowd at the Majestic Theater in downtown Dallas. The winner was Kayla O’Neal, a fourth grader at J.P. Starks Math, Science & Technology Vanguard Elementary School. She said: “He would rejoice to see children of all races siting in classrooms learning together, problem solving together, and sharing goals and dreams with each other. He would acknowledge the fact that African-Americans have come a mighty long way. … However, Dr. King would also have to acknowledge all of the things that are affecting not only our communities, but this entire country. The No. 1 problem that he would address would be drugs in our community.” Read more of the speeches here.

  • Many decide to honor MLK by holding a day of service. One such MLK Day of Service is happening in Tarrant County and organized by the Tarrant Area Community of Churches. Online registration is closed, but walk-ins are welcome at 8 a.m. at Baker Chapel A.M.E. Church in Fort Worth. The service event will help a variety of charitable groups across Tarrant County, including food banks, a community garden, and the elderly. Here’s a listing of groups helped by the Tarrant service event.

  • The ninth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium takes place tonight at 7 at the Dallas City Performance Hall. The symposium’s website states: “Fifty years ago, in his landmark ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Martin Luther King, Jr., said ‘...With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.’ Is that dream becoming a reality? Keynote speaker Touré will be joined by panelists Rev. Peter Johnson, Lauren Embrey and Dr. Angela Ards to discuss the realities of race in America fifty years after the dream.” There will be a musical introduction by the North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship Men in Worship Ensemble.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.