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Lycoming College will dedicate a plaque to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to campus on April 24, 1958, when he addressed the college community in Clarke Chapel. Derek Slaughter, mayor of Williamsport, Pa., will deliver a keynote address. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in Clarke Chapel on the Lycoming College campus. All members of the public are invited to attend.
Built in 1939, Clarke Chapel served as a haven for young scholars at Lycoming College who yearned to augment their learning with new ideas, public discourse, and the chance to hear guest speakers challenge their thinking with different perspectives. King, at age 29, became the most prominent guest of The Chapel Speakers Program with his talk, “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” in which he promoted civil rights through a philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience.
King went on to lecture at multiple other colleges and lead the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination ten years later. The plaque was funded by a Lycoming College alumnus who heard King speak at the College, and was motivated to mark the occasion of his lecture at Lycoming.
“It will be a great and humbling honor to speak about how Dr. Martin Luther King’s influence and legacy still resonates in the lives of everyday citizens in Williamsport. I thank Lycoming College for this opportunity to present how far we have come since Dr. King’s historic visit, and the work we all must still do together to reach the goals he set for us,” said Derek Slaughter, mayor of Williamsport, Pa.
“The Black Student Union is honored to be given the opportunity to document the monumental day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to this campus in 1958. BSU's mission is to create a progressive, safe and loving community for the black population that promotes cultural diversity and enlightenment. While on campus, Dr. King spoke on ‘Facing the Challenges of a New Age.’ Dr. King's speech at Lycoming aligns directly with our mission — moving this nation that was stricken with exploitation and segregation into a future of freedom. The world has come a long way since that time but there is still work to do. In the spirit of Dr. King, BSU works to push our community, and in turn our world, into a future of equality for all,” said Jessalyn Smith ’20, president of the Black Student Union at Lycoming College.
“Sixty-two years after Martin Luther King Jr., delivered remarks to the Lycoming College community, this campus continues to value civil discourse and to cultivate in our students the capacity to think freely.” said Kent C. Trachte, president of Lycoming College. “The plaque that will hang in Clarke Chapel will not only serve as a permanent reminder of King’s time with Lycoming students, it will inspire us to remain committed to the values of social justice and equality that informed Dr. King’s work and shaped our nation.”
The College continued to build on King’s Lycoming legacy when the Multi-Cultural Awareness Group brought his eldest daughter, Yolanda, to campus in 1993. She related her father’s vision with a speech entitled “A Dream Deferred,” 35 years after he addressed the campus community.
The plaque dedication is sponsored by Lycoming College, as well as the College’s Student Planning Committee for Black History Month, Office of Civic Engagement and Personal Development, and the Office of the President.