Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s Visit to Grinnell

Jan 13, 2017 — Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the Grinnell campus, delivering his prophetic message, "Remaining Awake Through a Revolution." As he began on Oct. 29, 1967, King apologized that he would have to leave in time to get to Atlanta, Ga. that night and begin serving his 19th jail sentence for his involvement in the civil rights movement the following morning in Birmingham, Ala.

King spoke as part of a three-day convocation, “The Liberal Arts College in a World of Change.” President Glenn Leggett, in his opening remarks, called the convocation, “an experience which will reaffirm our belief in the rational and imaginative power of this college and those who share its commitment to liberal education.”

Robert Hodierne '68 and Derrick Te Paske '68 documented King’s visit.

Martin Luther King Jr. speak at Grinnell's Darby Gymnasium in 1967
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Grinnell College Darby Gymnasium by Robert Hodierne '68

Martin Luther King Jr. speak at Grinnell's Darby Gymnasium in 1967
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Grinnell College Darby Gymnasium by Robert Hodierne '68

Press covering MLK's visit to Grinnell
National television cameras with photographer Robert Hodierne '68 at right, Grinnell College Darby Gymnasium by Derrick Te Paske '68

 Martin Luther King Jr. arriving at the Grinnell Airport
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s arrival at the Grinnell airport, where he was greeted by former FBI agent and Assistant to the President for Fundraising M. George Susens '35 (shaking hands), Grinnell Police Chief Bill Peters (right), and Sgt. Donald Ellis (left). Susens acted as King's bodyguard during his visit.