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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

King Comes to Newport News

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 
 
King Comes to Newport News Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
1. King Comes to Newport News Marker
Inscription. As part of Dr. King’s crusading efforts, he made appearances at historically black colleges throughout the country, including Hampton Institute, to spread his message. As a man of the cloth, his most frequent venue for reaching African Americans was that longstanding pillar of black society—churches. Twice, he ventured to this city to speak in a house of worship.

1958
First Church of Newport News (Baptist), organized in 1864, was the earliest congregation established within the original city limits. In 1897, a new brick edifice was built at 2300 Jefferson Avenue. The towering steeple was a landmark on the city horizon for many years. Therefore, it was quite fitting that on both of King’s visits to Newport News, he addressed the community at its oldest and largest black church.

Under the leadership of Dr. John Williams, First Church invited Dr. King to speak at its January 2, 1958 Emancipation Proclamation observance. His message fell on receptive ears because First Church, founded “in the era slavery, but never a spirit of enslavement,” welcomed the dynamic, young minister.

1962
On June 28, 1962, Dr. King returned to Newport News representing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which he was president and chief spokesman for equal rights for black Americans. This Funds

King Comes to Newport News Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
2. King Comes to Newport News Marker
for Freedom Drive was co-sponsored by the Virginia State Unit of the SCLC and the Peninsula Coordinating Committee.

No doubt King felt at home on this visit for the church was now the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Fred Boddie. The two men were old college chums from Shaw University, N.C. Dr. Boddie, and avid supporter of Dr. King, spent time in jail for his participation in the civil rights movement. When Dr. King spoke this time, he was confident of the support of his friends, Rev. Dr. Fred and Patricia Boddie. However, him message was received with mixed views by those who heard it. Overshadowed and burdened by America’s racist policies and practices, blacks in Newport News were divided in their opinion of Dr. King and his plan for equality.

(Inscription under the image in the upper center)
The tall steeple of First Church, as seen in this 1890 view, made it an easily recognizable structure in East End.

(Inscription under the image in the upper right)
1958 Emancipation Day Celebration at First Church. At the pulpit, Rev. Dr. John Francis Williams. Dr. King is seated at the far left. Shipyard Union leader Soloman M. Travis, Jr. is on the far right.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Martin Luther King, Jr. marker series.
 
Location. 36° 58.869′ N, 76° 25.244′ 

The Unfinished March-Dr. Martin Luther King Monument image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
3. The Unfinished March-Dr. Martin Luther King Monument
W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Martin L. King Jr. Way and Jefferson Avenue on Martin L. King Jr. Way. Touch for map. This marker is located in Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23607, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Memorial Design & Concept (a few steps from this marker); Newport News Pays Tribute (within shouting distance of this marker); James A. Fields House (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named James A. Fields House (about 700 feet away); Gregory Cherry (about 700 feet away); Ella Fitzgerald (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jessie Menifield Rattley (approx. ¼ mile away); Pearl Mae Bailey (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
Categories. African AmericansChurches, Etc.
 
Entrance to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
4. Entrance to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Plaza
Plaque on entrance gate-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
5. Plaque on entrance gate-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza
Groundbreaking September 11, 2010
Plaque on entrance gate-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 21, 2016
6. Plaque on entrance gate-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza
City of Newport News, Virginia
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 2, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 1, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 145 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 1, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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