MLK spoke in Dallas 50 years ago

photo courtesy of SMU
photo courtesy of SMU

The idea of integration terrified Dallas.

That’s evident in the Dallas Citizens Council’s 1961 propaganda film “Dallas at the Crossroads.” It’s evident from the bomb threat prior to Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 appearance at Fair Park.

When MLK returned to address Southern Methodist University students at McFarlin Auditorium in March 1966, the place was swarming with police. The 2,700-seat auditorium was packed beyond capacity.

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King had been invited to SMU by then-student senate vice president Bert Moore, a theology student who had traveled to Montgomery, Ala., to participate in a civil rights march with King.

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Moore died in October at age 71. He had served 26 years as dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.

King’s speech that day in fiercely segregated and deeply racist Dallas can be heard here. While slavery had ended and lynchings of black southerners had steeply declined since the 1930s, there were too many black Americans living on the periphery of society, he told the audience.

SMU last week gave a transcript of the speech and a photo from the event to the Dallas Civil Rights Museum at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center near Fair Park.

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