6 things you didn't know about MLK's ties to Dayton

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the commencement address at Antioch College in 1965.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the commencement address at Antioch College in 1965.

Despite protesters — and even a failed assasination plot — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. succeeded in heartening local communities during numerous visits to the Miami Valley in the midst of the Civil Rights movement.

Here are a few facts you didn't know about King's ties to the Dayton area, which include several visits to local colleges and universities.

He spoke at Central State University's 1958 commencement 
"It's a great time to be alive," Dr. King told the 172 graduates gathered at Central State University's commencement in 1958. "You are graduating at the time of the dying of an old world and the birth of a new one."

He made a speech at the University of Dayton fieldhouse
Just weeks after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and months after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Dr. King made a speech at the University of Dayton fieldhouse. More than a dozen protesters from the National States Rights party paraded outside with signs condemning the Civil Rights Act and charging King with association with the Communist party.

He was given a key to the city of Dayton
City Commissioner Don L. Crawford presented Dr. King with a key to the city on arrival and told him, "In this city there are some doors neither this key nor my persuasion can open to you."

He spoke at Wilberforce University's 107th commencement
In an address to graduates at Wilberforce University's 107th commencement on June 9, 1965, Dr. King "called on the graduates to battle three evils — racial injustice, poverty and war," according to a story in the next morning's Dayton Daily News. "Racial injustice is still the Negroes' burden and America's shame."

He spoke at Antioch College's 113th commencement

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Civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Dr. King delivered the commencement speech in 1965. Coretta Scott King and her elder sister, Edythe Scott, both were recipients of the first scholarship offered to non-white students by the college's Race Relations Committee.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Dr. King delivered the commencement speech in 1965. Coretta Scott King and her elder sister, Edythe Scott, both were recipients of the first scholarship offered to non-white students by the college's Race Relations Committee.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Combined ShapeCaption
Civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Dr. King delivered the commencement speech in 1965. Coretta Scott King and her elder sister, Edythe Scott, both were recipients of the first scholarship offered to non-white students by the college's Race Relations Committee.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Dr. King addressed 296 graduates at the 113th commencement at Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He was accompanied by his wife, Coretta Scott King, a former Antioch student. Of Antioch, King said, “All men of good will are indebted to this institution for its heritage. I am indebted to Antioch for having given me a marvelous wife.” Unbeknownst that day, Dr. King had been targeted for an assassination attempt during the visit to Antioch.

He was targeted for an assassination attempt while at Antioch

Combined ShapeCaption
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the commencement address at Antioch College in 1965.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the commencement address at Antioch College in 1965.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Combined ShapeCaption
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives the commencement address at Antioch College in 1965.

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

Credit: Photo courtesy Antiochiana Antioch College

19-year-old Daniel Wagner from Baltimore testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C. in Feb. 1966 that he had been part of plot to kill Dr. King with a Savage rifle purchased from Eloise Witte of Cincinnati. Wagner told the committee that Witte was to furnish 10 additional men who would fire into the crowd at the outdoor commencement while he would shoot Dr. King, according to a story published in the Dayton Daily News on Feb. 11, 1966. Witte, however, cancelled the assassination plot a few days before Antioch’s commencement because she couldn’t “get organized for that because of her work at the same time for a rally of the Ku Klux Klan near South Lebanon,” the Dayton Daily News reported on Feb. 11, 1966.

Read more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ties to the Dayton area on MyDaytonDailyNews.com. See a photo gallery of Dr. King's visits to the Miami Valley on MyDaytonDailyNews.com.

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