Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On January 15th we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As a nation we commemorate the day to reflect on the principles Dr. King represented for racial equality and nonviolent change. On March 6th, 1964, Dr. King made a visit to Central Florida to conduct workshops at the Shiloh Baptist Church, where he met locals and listened to their grievances.

In 1964, when Dr. King came to visit Central Florida desegregation legislation had not yet been passed into effect. Not many records exist of King’s visit and speech during his time here, but news scripts highlighted that he spoke of nonviolent unification and promoted the passage of a civil rights bill. After Dr. King’s visit a biracial committee was created which was focused on improving conditions for African American residents. Just a few months later on July 2nd, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed into effect.

Just months before Dr. King’s visit he was named TIME’s Man of the Year and yet his visit to the Central Florida area was not widely publicized. Dr. King spoke at Tinker field, at which over 2,000 people showed up. It marked the first time African Americans were allowed to sit in the “whites only” grandstand due to the size of the crowd. Dr. King’s influence resides all over Central Florida, and there are several locations dedicated in his name such as Libraries, Parks and MLK Jr. Boulevard. The positive change that occurred from that visit is still seen today in our communities.

ClickOrlando Channel 6 New report

Gadsden, Ginger. Historic Dr. King visit to Orlando nearly lost to history. ClickOrlando, January 18th, 2021.