Where words changed the world.
On April 17,1944, Martin L. King, Jr. gave his first public speech at this historic church in Dublin, GA.
Where the Civil Rights Movement began
Capture a glimpse into the child that became a legend of the Civil Rights movement. On April 17, 1944, the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia held their state convention at First African Baptist Church in Dublin and sponsored an essay contest. A 15 year old student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta delivered a speech entitled “The Negro and the Constitution.” Little did the audience realize they were witnessing the first public speech by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
The speech detailed the struggle for true equality, ending with the quote, “My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I, with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon- a Negro-and yet a man!”
Little did the audience realize what they were witnessing. In his autobiography, the young man recalls that the reading of this essay was his first public political speech. The young man spent the next twenty four years of his life fighting for the constitutional rights of the people of his race.
The young man, who came to Dublin was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On the return trip to Atlanta from Dublin, young Martin Luther King, Jr. was asked, for the first time in his life, to relinquish his bus seat and stand in the rear of the bus with his teacher. Dr. King initially refused the demand, but was later convinced by his teacher to give up his seat.
Hear in King's own words the power that day in Dublin had on his future in this 1965 Playboy interview with author Alex Haley
Inspire to Aspire
Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park
A desire to inspire positive social change was planted in young Martin Luther King, Jr. that day in Dublin, GA.
Dublin's monument commemorating King's first public speech at First African Baptist Church serves to preserve not only the historic moment but inspire other people, young and old, to consider how they can effect social change. This project bridges social and economic gaps, creating links to African American achievement through art and education, inspiring social action and unity.
Today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park includes an audio tour, vibrant mural, a sculpture bench, photomural, and is included on Georgia's Footsteps of MLK Trail along with First African Baptist Church.
Future planned improvements to the site include the addition of fountains and steel bands inscribed with quotes from Dr. King's later speeches.