Flashback: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Milwaukee legacy

Posted: 7:32 AM, Apr 04, 2018
Updated: 2019-01-04 14:52:33-05

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of his death.

Throughout his life, King introduced a non-violent approach to civil rights that differed from other movements at the time.

King was known and respected across the globe and his teachings left a strong impact on Milwaukee.

  • August 23, 1963: Milwaukeeans filled buses headed to Washington D.C. for Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington.
  • August 28, 1963: Dr. King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington.
  • January 27, 1964: Martin Luther King Jr. held a news conference at the Milwaukee Auditorium, it is now the Miller High Life Theatre. He spoke about unemployment, school segregation, housing and movements to counter non-violence.

"I think it is so important for children to grow up with healthy outlooks and world perspectives. They must not grow up stigmatized as sort of untouchable in a caste system, as an individual inevitably does as they live in a system of segregation."

  • November 23, 1965: Dr. King spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 "I feel there has been progress in race relations here as in other cities, but the problems are still here in employment and de facto segregation in the schools and of course, in housing."

  • 1967-1968: Milwaukeeans marched for 200 nights, protesting fair housing. The demonstrations were known as the Open Housing Marches. 
  • September 4, 1967: King sent a telegram acknowledging Milwaukee priest Father James Groppi's efforts during the marches.
  • April 3, 1968: Dr. King delivered his last speech in Memphis Tennessee. This speech was entitled "I've Been to the Mountaintop."
  • April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
  • "Right now everyone here has a great feeling of sadness, the loss of the great black leader," said Father James Groppi of King's death.
  • April 7, 1968: Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier spoke at a city-sanctioned memorial service for Dr. King at the old Washington Park Bandshell.
  • "Today, every man is silent. Because of the death of this apostle of non-violence and freedom," said Maier.
  • April 8, 1968: Nearly 15,000 people marched from St. Boniface through downtown Milwaukee in honor of Dr. King. The march was led by Father Groppi and the NAACP Youth commandos.

The national day of mourning for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death was April 7, 1968. Mayor Maier proclaimed the citywide day of mourning on April 9, 1968, the day of King's funeral in Atlanta.