Skip to Main Content

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Visits to Raleigh

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Ernest Dollar, Director for the City of Raleigh Museum, shared details on Martin Luther King Jr.’s visits to Raleigh in 1960 and 1966.  

1960 – Shaw University

From the News & Observer Collection, State Archives of NC.

King’s first visit was in April of 1960, a month after the Greensboro sit-ins. King came to support the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Shaw University in Downtown Raleigh. When King was asked the purpose of the meeting, he responded, “Plan strategy for victory.” The meeting at Shaw University was organized by civil rights leader Ella Baker and consisted of panel discussions and workshops with King and other ministers advising students and answering questions.

1966 – NC State University

Dr. King spoke before a crowd of 5,000 at Reynolds Coliseum July 31, 1966. PERRY AYCOCK, AP

When King returned in 1966, it was different. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and a year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. King spoke in Raleigh to an integrated audience of about 5,000 at Reynolds Coliseum on July 31, 1966. A counter-protest began two hours earlier with speeches at Memorial Auditorium and continued with a march by members from two factions of the Ku Klux Klan. W. Jason Miller, a professor of English at NC State University, wrote about King’s visit during that time for The News & Observer.