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Preserving the Legacy

By: Madeline Marbury

Photo: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Wing at The Riverside Church by Jack Kucy.

As we wrap up a façade restoration project that we are particularly proud of, we are preserving the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at The Riverside Church’s south wing. Renamed in 1985, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Wing is a seven-story, modern Gothic annex located to the south of the original church building where Dr. King delivered a total of six powerful sermons between 1961 and 1967.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of “nonviolent resistance, love of enemies and racial injustice”[1] from the pulpit in The Riverside Church. On April 4th, 1967, exactly one year before Dr. King was assassinated, he delivered a sermon at The Riverside Church titled, “Beyond Vietnam”. This speech was the first time Dr. King spoke to the public of his opposition to the war. King compared the war abroad to issues of civil rights in America, stated that “silence is betrayal” and said, “All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born.”[2] These sentiments ring true today.

As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, we can all reflect on his message and consider what it means for us today as we strive to be inclusive, anti-racist allies in our personal and professional lives.

[1] Paris, Peter J., and Martin E. Marty. The History of the Riverside Church in the City of New York. New York: New York University Press, 2004.

[2] King, Martin Luther. “‘Beyond Vietnam.’” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, January 30, 2020. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/beyond-vietnam.

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