MLK Weekend Tribute Night with the Komets on January 14, 2022
The Roman Numeral that you see embedded in the crest of the Komets MLK Weekend Tribute Jerseys scheduled to be worn on Friday, January 14, 2022 numerates a special date in the history of our proud city: June 5, 1963.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is most often remembered for his "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington at the end of August, 1963. A couple of months earlier on June 5th of that same year, a 34-year-old King spoke here in Fort Wayne downtown at the Scottish Rite. Thousands of Fort Wayne citizens of all races, genders, ages, and beliefs gathered to hear him.
Dr. King had already built a national reputation. For six years he had been leading a coalition known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the purpose of ending widespread racial segregation. Months before his appearance at the Scottish Rite, King had led non-violent boycotts, sit ins, and marches in Birmingham, Alabama. National media captured the police brutality used against demonstrators, igniting widespread moral outrage.
Dr. King's appearance in Fort Wayne was arranged by a group of church and civic leaders led by the African American Frontiers Club. Dr. John Meister, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, introduced him as "a glorious disturber of people and the peace."
We can imagine being present in the packed auditorium on that warm evening moved by the passion and immediacy of Dr. King's words. Here are just a sample of the passages MLK used that day to stress the immediacy of the need for change in our country:
- "There comes a time when a people get tired of injustice, oppression, exploitation. We want to be free."
- "Segregation is the new form of slavery covered with the niceties of civilizations."
- "Some say slow up. You're moving too fast., We can't - we love America too much. We're through with gradualism, tokenism, see-how-far-you've come-ism."
- "We have learned to stand up against the evil system - and still not hate in the process. We have discovered that love works miracles."
King finished by making it clear that segregation was not only a problem in the South:
- "De facto segregation in such cities as Fort Wayne can be just as damaging as the prevalent legal segregation of the South," he said.
A year after his visit to Fort Wayne, Dr. King was vaulted to international fame by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress would then pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Years of struggles to fulfill the promises of a more equal society would long continue.
Few outside Fort Wayne remember Dr. King's speech here at the Scottish Rite, one of thousands he made during his travels across the country before his tragic assassination in 1968. Still, at this time when we celebrate his life, it is appropriate to recall our local connection. As he did in so many communities, here in Fort Wayne Dr. King kindled hope and ignited a movement for social justice that wouldn't be stopped.
Friday, January 14, the Komets will face the Indy Fuel at the Coliseum at 7:35 p.m. while wearing these jerseys presented by CareSource. The jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds going to Healthier Moms and Babies.
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