MLK in CT Memorial to Be Unveiled Monday in Honor of Civil Rights Chief – NBC Connecticut

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. worked on the tobacco farms along Firetown Road in Simsbury for two summers, and many historians argue that the time he was in Connecticut as a teenager influenced his life.

On Monday, the Simsbury Free Library will honor the civil rights activist who inspired millions of people around the world and unveil the MLK at the CT Memorial.

Groups of students who received Dr. King’s Connecticut time researched, made a documentary, raised $ 150,000, and designed the memorial outdoors in the Simsbury Free Library grounds.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, precautions are in place and the library cannot have the public on-site. Therefore, the unveiling of the monument will be a drive-by event.

A post on the MLK in CT website says people can attend the drive-by birthday, which takes place in front of the Simsbury Free Library from 2pm to 4pm

The public is invited to decorate their cars with balloons, streamers, and other birthday fans and join the procession on Hopmeadow Street.

The parade continues along Firetown Road to Plank Hill Road towards Hopmeadow Streetm where the cars turn right and pass the Simsbury Free Library.

Social distancing protocols are followed.

A live stream will be available here.

The memorial includes five panes of glass that deal with various aspects of the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deal.

  • The first represents the king’s family history
  • The second is his trip to Simsbury
  • The third describes his time in Simsbury and the impact on his life
  • The fourth describes his departure and return to the separated south
  • The final panel describes the life of MLK and the legacy that followed

Clayborne Carson, history professor and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute of Research and Education at Stanford University, said King’s time in Connecticut played a role in his decision to become a minister and in influencing his views on segregation. Just before King came to Connecticut that summer, a bus driver ordered him to give up his seat for a white passenger en route to Atlanta.

“Those experiences were pretty close,” said Carson. “I think the two things together have sharpened his resentment against segregation in the south.”

The MLK on CT website says the memorial is not just a memorial. It’s a place where people sit, think and do something about Dr. King can learn.

“We want people to come to this memorial and see the impact it can have on the world. In particular, we want students to see this memorial and be inspired. King was a young student when he was working in Simsbury It is extraordinary to believe that such a great leader has been moved by an environment we take for granted today: Martin Luther King Jr. has not only the United States but the world with him changed nonviolent movement against racism “, it says on the website.

Find out more about the event here.

“When he came from the segregated south and came from Atlanta, where he was never respected, obviously humiliated by signs of ‘only white’, of ‘only colored’, Connecticut gave him this sense of belonging, this sense of identity of this African Americans were looking for, “said Stephen Balkaran, an African American studies instructor at Central Connecticut State University, during an interview with NBC Connecticut last year.

King was only 15 years old when he worked in Simsbury the first summer of 1944. Work was hard, but it was what he did during his downtime and how he was treated by the Connecticut people that impressed him so much.

“He wrote about going to the movies and sitting wherever he wanted, going to some of the best restaurants in Hartford. For him, these were hugely influential experiences in the life of a young man, ”Catherine Labadia, a staff archaeologist and assistant state heritage protection officer for the State Historic Preservation Office told NBC Connecticut last year.

King wrote a series of five letters to his parents about his experience.

“He talked about how he was treated in Connecticut, in restaurants he could sit in, and no one made it difficult for him. Coming from the separate south was somehow impossible. The mountaintop speech he always gives started right here in the Connecticut Valley. We influenced his philosophy, we influenced his legacy, I think the great state needs to get awards for what we did to bring Dr. King and to inspire the civil rights movement, ”said Balkaran.

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