The Martin Luther King Memorial in Simsbury Committee
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A group of area citizens came together to commemorate the presence of the young Martin Luther King, Jr. as he worked to earn his tuition with other Morehouse College Students in Simsbury during the summers of 1944 and 1947. The group had envisioned a statue and sanctuary for reflection, contemplation and illumination. As envisioned, such a sanctuary would inform residents and visitors alike, of Simsbury's connection to the young Dr. King's personal history as he continued to develop his view of human nature, of the world and of his emerging place in that world. The ever-present, spiritual commitment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as his tough-minded insistence on rational thought, continue to inspire us; his contributions to Civil Rights and to the art of citizenship are a model of courageous love worthy of examination. This is a great American whom we would be proud to celebrate. While we will continue to commemorate Dr. King and his presence in Simsbury, the sanctuary, as originally envisioned, is no longer being pursued.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Simsbury
In the summer of 1944, a boy named Michael King traveled from Atlanta with a group of students from Morehouse College to work in the tobacco fields in Simsbury, CT. This was his first exposure to the Northeast and to a society that was not formally segregated and provided a number of interactions with the communities in the Connecticut River Valley. Michael was black and from the segregated south. Those who met him would never imagine that he would become one of the 20th century's most recognized personalities.
Michael King Jr. eventually changed his name to Martin Luther King, Jr. and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Peace. Dr. King's writings strongly suggest that his call to the ministry crystallized during his stay in Simsbury working in the tobacco fields.
A group of local residents have come together to create a permanent memorial to honor Dr. King and to acknowledge the historic significance of his presence in Simsbury as a young man. Through this memorial, we wish to simultaneously celebrate his connection to Simsbury, his winning the Nobel Prize, and his life's work on behalf of others.
We on the "Committee" are compiling information about Martin Luther King's (a.k.a. Michael King's) time in Simsbury. While not much survives in document form that directly relates to him and his time in Simsbury, the social environment can be explored through records and publications of the day. Pam McDonald, a Simsbury resident, has done a great deal of research on these issues and her research is highlighted below.
The "Committee" has paused a number of times to reflect on the following points: