Indiana remembers our connections to MLK
The 50th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Service of the Indiana Christian Leadership Conference (ICLC) kick-offed with a public choral concert on Sunday January 13. The event remembered the ICLC’s 50th year anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. Nur-Allah Islamic Center and The Recorder Media Group also sponsored the event.
The event started with a repast with local leaders and a video about several people who knew King, King had a close and personal relation with Indianapolis through his good friend Rev. Andrew J. Brown, then pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. King often came to Indianapolis to speak, initially in sermons that were not publicized because of fear of violence or assassination. St. John’s was a “Movement” church, which allow Rev. Brown and his associates to get the word out when Dr. King was in town. In 1958 Dr. King addressed more than 3,800 people in Cadle Tabernacle downtown, joined at the podium by Rev. Brown and Mayor Charles Boswell. After this, Dr. Kings frequent Indianapolis visits became more open.
The friendship between Dr. King and Rev. Brown shaped the Civil Rights Movement in Indiana. As president of the Indianapolis NAACP in the early 1960s, Rev. Brown led the movement to organize a voting bloc of previously disenfranchised African Americans. Rev. Brown founded the Indiana Christian Leadership Conference (ICLC), an affiliate of the South Christian Leadership Conference founded by Dr. King. In 1968, ICLC adapted a program begun by Dr. King in Chicago called “Operation Breadbasket,” which sought to expand discussions of uncomfortable issues of racism, religion poverty, and social justice from the perspective of African Americans (WTLC broadcasts the weekly radio program “Operation Breadbasket presents Harambee.”). In 1970, Rev. Brown co-founded Indiana Black Expo. Today IBE’s Summer Celebration is the largest ethnic-cultural event in the country.
After the repast and video, the group went across the street to St. John’s New Sanctuary for a Concert of inspiring music from the Civil Rights Movement. Music was performed by choirs from around the state joining together.
January 21st will mark the 50th commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. It is the fourth year that CIC has partnered to make it a genuinely interfaith celebration. It is a historic milestone for the city of Indianapolis. Ours is one of the oldest celebrations of Dr. King’s legacy in the country.