On Oct. 22, 1959, Civil Rights leader and minister Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made a visit to Fort Worth and now, 58 years later, his visit will be commemorated by the placing of the MLK Memorial Landmark Plaque and Pedestal.
The monument was proposed by the Tarrant County Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter (SCLC) and supported by other academic institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The proposal was accepted as part of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Foundation Heritage Trails in Downtown Fort Worth said president of the local SCLC chapter Rev. Kyev Tatum.
King was invited by Vada Felder, the first African American graduate of the Brite Divinity School. He befriended her at a church meeting in Nashville, Tennessee where she asked him to visit the city to deliver a sermon later that year.
Upon his arrival, King was met with hate and angry threats. He was forbidden from speaking at TCU and was not allowed to stay at any hotels, so he stayed at Felder’s house.
He spoke twice, once in the morning at a prayer breakfast for Brite faculty at social and Christian ethics professor Dr. Harold Lunger’s home, and second at the Fort Worth Majestic Theater in downtown where the memorial gets its name.
“It should be noted that the Majestic Theater was the first establishment to quietly integrate in Fort Worth when it allowed blacks to enter through the front door of the theater and sit in the lower seats to hear Dr. King speak,” Tatum said. “It was truly a great day to be alive in Fort Worth, Texas.”
He spoke at the now-gone theater to a crowd of about 400 who paid $1.25 to see him inside. His sermon was entitled “A Great Time to Be Alive”, which addressed “the struggle to save the soul of America.”
The marker will be located in General Worth Square across the street from the John F. Kennedy landmark.
The memorial plaque ceremony will be held Wednesday, April 4 on the 50th Anniversary of King’s assassination.