Nearly 59 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s first visit to Oberlin, residents will gather Monday, Jan. 18 to rededicate themselves to his dream.
A ceremony in honor of the King holiday will begin at 12:15 p.m. at King Park, 17 East Vine St.
More than 100 people gathered last year around the King monument, which stands tall a the 1.5-acre park.
“I think people come out in Oberlin because there’s still work to be done,” said the Rev. Steve Hammond of Peace Community Church, who spoke at the event.
He said people remember when King visited Oberlin and the topics he discussed, such as militarism and poverty.
“It’s not remembering something Martin Luther King did but something he called us to do.” Hammond said. “There’s unfinished business.”
King visited Oberlin several times, first in February 1957 when he spoke about the topics “Justice Without Violence,” “The New Negro in the South,” and “The Montgomery Story.”
The next time he spoke in Oberlin was in October 1964 to nearly 2,500 students, faculty, and visitors about “The Future of Integration.” So many people wanted to listen to him that it was broadcast over the radio to Hall Auditorium and Oberlin College’s Kettering Hall of Science.
“The time is always right to do what’s right,” King told students.
In 1965, King received an honorary degree of humane letters from Oberlin College at commencement. It was the last time he spoke in Oberlin before his death in 1968.
The federal holiday named for King was signed into law in 1983 and took effect three years later, but not all states observed the holiday until 1991.
Oberlin first observed the holiday in 1971 in association with King’s birthday, which is Jan. 15.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Residents gather last year as the Rev. Steve Hammond of Peace Community Church talks about the “Rededication to the Dream.”
Courtesy of the Oberlin College Archives
Martin Luther King Jr. stops to sign an autograph during Oberlin College’s 1965 commencement ceremony.