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A Look Back: King Received Audience Reverence at 2003 Visit

A Look Back: King Received Audience Reverence at 2003 Visit

Posted: February 14, 2019

As leaders call for a renewed focus on social justice, peace, and understanding during Black History Month, Buffalo State remembers the February 28, 2003, visit of a Civil Rights icon who made a similar plea.

In a sold-out talk in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, Coretta Scott King encouraged students to continue working toward fulfilling the dream of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Arise now, young people. This is your time and the hour of your appointment has come,” she said. “The torch of leadership is being passed to your generation.”

Scott Johnson, associate professor of criminal justice, attended her talk and said he remembers King’s incredible grace and honesty.

“The audience seemed excited to show appreciation for her leadership,” Johnson said. “As I recall, she walked onto the stage to a long and enthusiastic standing ovation. Everyone was reverent and respectful throughout the program, hanging onto her every word.”

In the next day’s Buffalo News, reporter Gene Warner wrote, “King challenged her young listeners to take up many of the battles that she and her late husband had fought.”

While King lauded the progress that has been made since her husband’s death, including an increased number of black officials elected to Congress, she also noted how far the country has to go.

“I wish I could say Martin’s vision for the elimination of poverty, racism, and war was much farther along,” she said. “Certainly, we, as African Americans, are not where we should be today.”

A reception was held after her talk at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Buffalo Public School leaders had the chance to speak with King, along with K-12 students who won an essay writing contest on why they wanted to meet her. 

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