1965 “Martin Luther King, Jr. Visits MSU and Delivers Speech

February 11, 2018 all-day

On February 11, 1965, more than 4,000 students and community residents attended a campus visit and lecture by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It was standing room only in the Auditorium, with the overflow crowd packed into the Fairchild Theater where they could hear the civil rights leader’s speech.

According to MSU’s summary of the speech, King issued three challenges to the audience that must be met for people to survive. First, people must achieve a world brotherhood perspective. Second, the notion of superior and inferior races must be abolished. And last, massive action programs must be developed to rid the world of segregation.

King came to Michigan State University to kick off a fundraising drive for the All University Student Government-sponsored Student Educational Project (STEP) in Mississippi.

The STEP program involved sending student and faculty volunteers during the summer of 1965 to assist Rust College of Holly Springs, Mississippi. It evolved out of MSU students’ desire to help others and gain educational experience.

For another see Vickki Dozier, “King called students to service in 1965 speech at MSU”, Lansing State Journal, January 19, 2015.

Ken Coleman, “On this day in 1965: MLK visits MSU to continue civil rights crusade“, Michigan Advance, February 11, 2022.

For more information, visit Martin Luther King Jr. Visits MSU by the MSU University Archives and Historical Collections.