Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument
Church (The Meeting House)
Courtesy of The Sculpture Center
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument, East Vine Street
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made several visits to Oberlin
during the Civil Rights Movement. King's first official visit to Oberlin,
in February of 1957, was just a couple months after he and the Montgomery
Improvement Association successfully ended their 381-day bus boycott.
It was during this historic boycott that King began to make a name for
himself as a leader in the movement. Oberlin was fortunate to have Dr.
King speak not once, but three times, during his visit. Speaking on the
topics "Justice Without Violence" and "The New Negro in
the South" at the First Church of Oberlin and on "The Montgomery
Story" during a noon assembly at Finney Chapel, Dr. King enlightened
the college and town communities as to the nature of the growing Civil
Rights Movement. Dr. King's constant activism was proving to be quite
a surprise to his Dexter Avenue Baptist Church congregation in Montgomery,
who had appointed him in hopes that he would be less radical than their
former pastor, Oberlin graduate Vernon Johns.
"The time is always right to do what's right," King told Oberlin
students. Voting for Barry Goldwater was not among King's list of right-minded
actions, especially since Goldwater's recent vote against the Civil Rights
Bill. The bill passed in spite of GOP resistance, but King was obviously
concerned about the upcoming election. In what was a bloody year in American
history, with riots in at least six American cities and the murder of
three civil rights worders in Mississippi, King's words were painfully
significant: "It is true that behavior cannot be legislated, and
legislation cannot make you love me, but legislation can restrain you
from lynching me, and I think that is kind of important."
The monument was designed by Paul Arnold, late professor of art at Oberlin College, in collaboration with Burrell Scott, who did the masonry. It was completed in 1987.
Back to Downtown Oberlin Walking Tour of Civil War Monuments