King's '63 Visit Here Inspires Notre Dame Events

Author: Gene Stowe, South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND - The 50th anniversary of a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Notre Dame has inspired a yearlong focus on the African Diaspora with events on campus and in downtown South Bend centers.

A broad and quickly arranged coalition of community leaders arranged the 1963 event here after King accepted resident Alphia Ganaway's invitation to visit the city.

Ganaway recruited Dr. Roland Chamblee and others who formed the Citizens' Civic Planning Committee. Chamblee received permission from the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, university president at the time, to hold the rally at the Stepan Center.

"I'm fascinated by the wide array of groups who brought Dr. King in -- many unions, churches, synagogues and interfaith groups, in addition to the usual NAACP that you might expect," said Monica Tetzlaff, an associate professor of history at Indiana University South Bend.

"There were about 20 groups who cooperated," said Tetzlaff, who will give a lecture on the event at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture.

King's appearance on Oct. 18, 1963, was some seven weeks after his "I Have a

Dream" speech at the March on Washington, the anniversary of which will be observed over the next week.

Here, he addressed 3,000 people after a motorcade of 50 cars and 20 police officers from the airport to a downtown news conference and dinner at First United Methodist Church.

"We must live together as brothers or die together as fools," King told the crowd here. "Science and technology have made today's world a neighborhood. We must make it a brotherhood."

Among other things, King called for Birmingham, Ala., to hire 25 African-American police officers and denounced Attorney General Robert Kennedy's support for a watered-down civil rights bill.

"The law can't make you love me, but it can keep you from lynching me," he said. "Laws can't change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless. Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated."

King later wrote to Ganaway (now deceased) to thank her and her assistant, Martha Wilson, for organizing the event, which raised money for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

"Let me say that the

rally in South Bend was one of the best organized we have ever had," he wrote. "It was remarkable that you were able to touch so many people in the wide cross section of the community."

Notre Dame's commemoration includes exhibits and events on campus and in community centers such as the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture, the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium, and the Center for History.

An exhibit at the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture's Crossroads Gallery, "The African Presence in Mexico," opened Thursday and continues until Oct. 18.

The Snite Museum of Art will display from Tuesday to Sept. 22 five photographs from key civil rights events, including King's 1958 arrest in Montgomery, Ala., the 1963 Birmingham demonstrations and the 1965 march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery.

Claudia Bernardi of California College of the Arts will conduct an Artist Talk & Discussion on "Walls of Hope/African American Elders Share Memories of Integration During the Civil Rights Movement in the '60s," at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture. The Center for History, 808 W. Washington St., South Bend, will exhibit "Civil Rights in the Media."

For more information and a schedule of events, visit