Lynchburg Public Library

Martin Luther King, Jr Center

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the principle leader for the Civil Rights Movement that took place in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His passion and commitment for social justice and equality for Blacks and other minorities changed the course of America. On March 27, 1962, the City of Lynchburg intimately experienced King’s fervor, when he spoke to a capacity audience at the E.C. Glass Auditorium.

On February 27, 1990, in response to public interest, the City Council of Lynchburg appointed a Civil Rights Blue Ribbon Memorial Committee to review and study ideas for a memorial to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After this Committee reported on January 8, 1991, Council established the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lynchburg Community Council. It was charged with providing for the development and maintenance of a focal point for human rights concerns in our community, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Human Rights.

The Center is located in the Quiet Room of the Lynchburg Public Library.

An annual birthday breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is also sponsored by the Council.

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

A Brief Biography
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), an American Baptist Minister, was the principal leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His vision and courage enabled Dr. King to effectively express the demands for social justice for Blacks and other minority Americans. His dynamic and moving speeches won the support of millions of people of all races. In Lynchburg’s E.C. Glass Auditorium on March 27, 1962 Dr. King spoke to a capacity audience. Emphasizing the importance of carrying on the nonviolent attack on segregation, he stated: “One of the greatest steps you can take is the short walk to the voter’s booth.” Read a transcript of Dr. King’s Speech at E.C. Glass H.S.

Dr. King, representing the SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963, and was the site of his infamous “I have a dream” speech. (Listen to the speech here.) In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was struck down by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there supporting a strike of Black sanitation workers as part of his efforts to organize the Poor People’s Campaign. In 1986, Dr. King became the only American other than George Washington to have his birthday observed as a national holiday. In 1999, Lynchburg City Council and the Lynchburg School Board voted to recognize Dr. King’s birthday as an official holiday.

Read further about Dr. King with this more extensive biography courtesy of Stanford.

Henry W. Powell was an African-American living in Lynchburg, VA during the Civil Rights movement. Read his memoirs here.

 

DISPLAYS

Martin Luther Kings Jr.’s 1962 visit to Lynchburg

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The exhibit, sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lynchburg Community Council, reflects the impact Dr. King had on the Lynchburg area during the Civil Rights Movement, especially in March 1962 when he spoke at E.C. Glass High School. This free exhibit can be viewed during Library open hours.

Lord, Plant on My Feet on Higher Ground
Ann Van de Graaf painting

Ann Van de Graaf painted the image on the right for the Legacy Museum of African America History. Read the speech she gave on January 21, 2008 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 10th Annual Birthday Breakfast.

ABOUT DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR./LYNCHBURG COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lynchburg Community Council and Corporation for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Human Rights:

  • Veronica Callaham
  • Rev. James Cobbs, Jr.
  • Jevon Scott
  • Jennie M. Dyke
  • Betty Jean Payne
  • Gloria Preston
  • Jullian Brian Richie
  • Marilyn Martin, City Liaison

If you are interested in joining the Council, please complete the membership application and mail it to 2315 Memorial Ave.

Council guidelines for prayer at public events are posted here.

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