On Thursday, May 5, 1960, The Daily Tar Heel previewed a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. that was to take place the following Monday:

Martin Luther King to speak at UNC

An overflow crowd attended the speech, which was held in Hill Hall at 8pm. A few years ago, Mike Ogle wrote about the speech and what brought Dr. King to Chapel Hill, where he gave four talks. He also tracked down two pictures of  Dr. King speaking in Chapel Hill in the John “Yonni” Kenyon Chapman papers in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC. Here is one of the photos:

Dr. King’s speech at the African American community center, which is called the Hargraves Community Center today. (UNC Southern Historical Collection)

Two days after the speech, the DTH ran an editorial, in which they noted:

Martin Luther King may well go down in history, when they write the books a hundred years from now, as one of the great men of our time. If he does, it will be because he has the courage and the foresight to realize the prejudices of mankind and to battle them, and the patience and understanding of a love which obscures and conquers hate.

The Chapel Hill News, which covered the same speech, noted the following exchange taking place during the Q&A (h/t Kirk Ross)

In December 1983, the Chapel Hill Town Council debated whether to establish a town holiday in 1984 to honor Dr. King. Council Member Bill Thorpe argued that Chapel Hill would be “setting a good example” by designating this as a holiday in 1984. (The federal government had set the holiday to begin in 1986.)

The motion passed 8-1.

Related reading:

MLK in Jim Crow Chapel Hill by Mike Ogle

University Baptist Church honors Martin Luther King Jr. with dedication for 1960 speech (Daily Tar Heel)

Martin Luther King Jr. and Chapel Hill’s Jim Crow past (The News and Observer)

Melody Kramer

Melody Kramer (@mkramer) serves on the OWASA board and lives in Carrboro with her family. By day, she leads communications for a large academic research center and recently obtained her MLIS degree focusing...