Enid News & Eagle
Like many places across the United States, Oklahoma City had “white only” eating establishments in the 1950s.
OKC’s Calvary Baptist Church interviewed a young Martin Luther King Jr. for senior pastor in 1953, but the search committee deemed the young seminarian to be too inexperienced.
Instead of serving in Oklahoma, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., at age 25 in 1954. King led the nonviolent Montgomery Bus Boycott, and his house was bombed and he was arrested.
In 1958, Clara Luper led a sit-in at Oklahoma City’s Katz Drug Store in protest of segregation, launching a nationwide movement.
A decade later, King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. He was 39 years old.
In America, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday each third Monday in January. Although the holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, not all 50 states officially observed the holiday until the year 2000.
In Enid, our municipal, fire and police complex is called the Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Complex. Our City Hall, Enid Transit, Public Library of Enid and Garfield County and the recycling center are closed today in honor of the holiday.
Enid’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration promotes diversity in the community.
“Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t just stand for African-American people,” said Stephanie Carr, secretary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Commission. “He fought for the rights of women, he fought for city workers and he stood up for the rights of all people to receive fair treatment and equal pay.”
King’s message still resonates today:
“From every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”