Civil rights activist Martin Luther King , Jr. was invited to Bridgeport to speak several times during the 1960s.
As a moral leader, King espoused non-violence as the means to bring about political change, emphasizing that spiritual principles guided by love can triumph over the politics of hate and fear. He was a superb orator, best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech given at the March on Washington in 1963. King became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
In March 1961, King was a Jacoby lecturer at the University of Bridgeport. He spoke at Klein Memorial Auditorium to more than 2,700 local residents enthralled by his call for President John F. Kennedy to strongly enforce the civil rights laws. The title of his speech was “The American Dream.” He stressed the importance of America becoming truly democratic, providing equal opportunities for all, commenting that “brotherhood is our salvation.”
In June 1961 he returned to the City to receive an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Bridgeport.
In March 1964, an even larger audience at Klein Auditorium heard King call for the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s impact and legacy was not limited to the U.S., but was worldwide, including influencing the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.