Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Tree
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Freedom must ring from every mountainside...and when this happens, all...will be able to stand together...and sing a new song...Free at last, free at last, great God Almighty, we are free at last"
Morgan State College
June 2, 1958
Erected 2007 by Maryland State Archives.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Martin Luther King, Jr. marker series.
Location. 38° 58.716′ N, 76° 29.44′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker is on State Circle. Touch for map. This marker is on the grounds of the Maryland State House. Marker is in this post office area: Annapolis MD 21401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Roger Brooke Taney (here, next to this marker); Dred Scott, 1700 - 1858 (here, next to this marker); Roger Brooke Taney, 1777 - 1864 (a few steps from this marker); USS Maryland (a few steps from this marker); General Washington Matthew Alexander Henson (within shouting distance of this marker); Maryland State House (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Mary's City Cannon (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Annapolis.
More about this marker. The treee, a Northern Red Oak, was planted on January 12, 1984 in commemoration of Dr. King's birthday. The tree was rededicated with new plaque on February 28, 2007. The plaque was designed by Sharron Fletcher of Signcraft, Annapolis, Maryland
Also see . . . Rededication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Oak Tree, State House Grounds, Annapolis, MD. (Submitted on April 1, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
1. Remarks of Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse
at the rededication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Oak Tree, State House Grounds, Annapolis on February 28, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. [Source: Maryland State Archives (http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/stagser/s1259/131/memorials/mlkproposal/edremarks.doc)]
Governor O'Malley, Lt. Governor Brown, Delegate Jones,
Last summer, when Diane Wilson of the Department of General Services brought the sorry state of the signage for the Dr. Martin Luther King memorial oak tree to the attention of the State House Trust, I asked the director of the Maryland State Archives, Legacy of Slavery project (http://mdslavery.net), Chris Haley, and researcher John Gartrell, to find the text of a sermon or speech Dr. King gave in Maryland so that any quote used on a dedicatory plaque would have a true Maryland connection.
Little did I expect John Gartrell to find a speech that, to date, all the King scholars have missed, a speech that inspired a new generation of Morgan graduates and undergraduates to pursue a course of non-violent resistance to racism and bigotry.
On June 2, 1958, Hughes Memorial Stadium at Morgan State College in Baltimore was filled with 3,000 visitors, including the governor of Maryland, Theodore McKeldin, and 290 Morgan graduates who listened spellbound as Dr. Martin Luther King gave a 40 minute commencement address extemporaneously and completely without notes.
It is an extraordinary exhortation to excellence in the face of adversity which only the Afro American published in full in its late Baltimore City and Washington editions. It sings with elements of prose and poetry that Dr. King would use again and again to inspire the nation and the world.
Dr. King was a master communicator who incorporated familiar hymns and popular quotations shaped to his meaning into the rhythm of his message.
To date we have not been able to find a recording of the address, but it must have been an electrifying experience for all who were there, including the late Walter Sondheim and the Baltimore philanthropist Jacob Blaustein, who also received honorary degrees from Morgan that day.
When we awarded the contract for the new plaque we unveil today to a local Annapolis firm, Signcraft, the words John Gartrell chose from Dr. King's Morgan address so inspired their graphic artist, Sharron Fletcher, that she spent hours of her own time in creating the artwork which she and her employers will be donating this evening to the state's art collection.
Many of the words Dr. King spoke that day are familiar to us. They form the basis of a philosophy of advocacy and action that would lead to a Nobel Peace Prize six years later in 1964.
A few excerpts hint at the power of the preacher that day:
"In this new world, no individual or no nation can live alone. The new world is a world of geographical togetherness --- we must make it a world of spiritual togetherness ..."
"We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all die together as fools...."
"...go out to do a good job. Do it well. This is the challenge of the hour. Do it so well nobody could to it better. Do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Do it so well that the living, the dead and unborn could not do it better. ... If you can't be a pile on the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley, but be the best shrub on the side of the hill; Be a bush if you can't be a tree ..."
"Let me say to you ... that social progress is never inevitable. ... It only comes through the persistent effort and the hard work of dedicated individuals. Without this persistent work, time itself becomes the ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social stagnation...."
And to thunderous applause Dr. King concluded, expanding a partisan speech of a friend into words that five years later would echo down the mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and throughout the land:
"In a few years from now, you will be able to sing with new vim, "My Country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
That must be come literally true.
Freedom must ring form every mountainside --- yes, let it ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire;
Let it ring from the mighty mountains of New York;
Let it ring form the heightening Alleghanys of Pennsylvania;
Let it ring from the snow capped rockies of Colorado;
Let it ring from the curvaceous slopes of California
But not only that, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!
Let it ring from Look Out Mountain of Tennessee;
Let it ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi;
Let it ring from every mountain of Alabama--
from every mountainside --- let freedom ring!
And when this happens "all men will be able to stand together, black men, and white men, Jews and Gentiles. Protestants and Catholics, and sing a new song--
Free at last, free at last, great God Almighty, we are free at last!"
It is now my privilege to turn the program over to an individual whose whole career has been devoted to advancing and protecting the freedoms that Dr. King cherished. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown has defended freedom on the floor of the House of Delegates, in the courtroom, and on the battlefield. Lt. Colonel Brown is the recipient of the Bronze Star and numerous civic awards. He has climbed the mountain and stands tall among the trees of public servants devoted to furthering the cause of justice, equality, and education.
Lt. Governor Brown
— Submitted March 28, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
Additional keywords. Morgan State University
Categories. • African Americans • Natural Resources • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 28, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,835 times since then and 37 times this year. Last updated on May 13, 2013, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 28, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 3. submitted on May 12, 2012. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.