Home > Martin Luther King speaks at Univ. of Pittsburgh, Nov. 1966

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1966:  "The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Pittsburgh"

Everybody can be great.  Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love. “

These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are honoring his legacy with a series of photographs from our photo archive and newspaper clips from The Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King visited the University of Pittsburgh in Nov. 1966 and addressed a crowd of some 1000 students and faculty members jammed into the University of Pittsburgh’s 850-seat Student Union ballroom. In his 50-minute speech the civil rights leader said that non-violence is the “most potent weapon” of African Americans in the fight for equality. “America,” he said, according to the Post-Gazette, “has failed to listen to the plight of the poor Negro.” He observed that ‘winters of delay’ had led to ‘summers of riots.’

"Dr. King drew the largest turnout of students ever to hear a visiting speaker in Pitt’s Student Union. The main auditorium was filled to overflowing and hundreds of students stood or sat in halls and other rooms, listening to his speech by loudspeakers," the Post-Gazette said.

Speaking in solemn, sometimes poetic tones, Dr. King said that “if the United States could spend 24 billion dollars a year to fight the war in Vietnam and almost as much to put the man on the moon then billions could be spent to upgrade the Negro,” the Post-Gazette reported.

"Some people are more concerned about winning the war in Vietnam than they are about winning the war on poverty right here at home," he said. "I must say to you no matter how much I’m criticized for it I never intend to adjust to madness of militarism."

Dr. King ended his speech on an optimistic note: “Despite current problems in the civil rights movement, white backlash and black power, I still have faith in the future.”

— Mila Sanina
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