Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at K-State 50 years ago today. His son will next week

Martin Luther King III
Martin Luther King III Courtesy photo

It is 50 years to the day since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Kansas State University just months before his assassination, and now his eldest son will speak at the university a week after condemning President Trump.

Martin Luther King III will speak at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday at K-State’s Student Union with a candlelight vigil afterward.

King’s speech comes after he spoke out against Trump’s alleged crude words to describe Haiti and African countries and suggesting more U.S. immigrants should come from places like Norway.

“Now the problem is that you have a president who says things but has the power to execute and create racism,” King said. “That’s a dangerous power and a dangerous position, and we cannot tolerate that. We’ve got to find a way to work on this man’s heart.”

King’s father spoke in Ahearn Field House at K-State on Jan. 19, 1968, less than three months before he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis. He addressed progress made by the civil rights movement in narrowing the racial divide.

“We have come a long, long way, but we still have a long, long way to go before we have a truly integrated and just society,” King Jr. said in his speech.

That same line is engraved into the base that holds a bust of King Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House, the K-State Collegian reported, just across Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive from the Student Union.

K-State has said the lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Security measures will be in place and backpacks and purses will not be allowed.

The lecture comes two months after K-State suspended classes on Nov. 14 for a campus-wide rally against racism hosted by student leaders and keynoted by university President Richard Myers. All classes were suspended from 1 to 3 p.m. for the “#KSUnite” event.

In May, a noose was found hanging from a campus tree, then white nationalist fliers were found on campus in September.

In October, a Jewish sukkah was damaged by weather in what was first thought to be an act of antisemitic vandalism. Days later, the anti-gay slur “God hates (expletive)” was found written outside the Student Union.

Also in October, a K-State freshman who was a member of the school’s Family of the Year posted a photo on Snapchat with a KKK reference of two people wearing white ponchos with hoods pulled over their heads and the text, “Newest members of the Kstate Kool Kids.” That image came a year after a former student posted a photo on Snapchat of herself in apparent blackface and using the n-word.

In November, Riley County police and the FBI found that a Manhattan man who was not a K-State student defaced his own car with racist slurs.