Saturday, May 18, 2024
African American Heritage, Ethnic History, Politics, Social Justice

Martin Luther King Visits Bridgeport

By:  Mary K. Witkowski, Bridgeport City Historian

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. visited Bridgeport at least five times. In March of 1961, King delivered the Frank Jacoby lecture for the. University of Bridgeport.  Due to the large crowd, the lecture was held at the Klein Memorial Auditorium. More than 2,700 local residents listened to King’s enthralling words.In the speech, King called on President John F. Kennedy to strongly enforce the civil rights laws.

In June 1961, King returned to the City to receive an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Bridgeport.

On January 15, 1962, about 1,300 people attended a  rally in Central High School Auditorium. “We have to live together when the battle is over,” he told students and other residents.

In March 1964, an even larger audience at Klein Auditorium heard King call for the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

On April 8, 1968, four days after King’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn., an overcrowded Klein Auditorium participated in a memorial service for the slain leader.

Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.