On his Day, remembering when Martin Luther King visited Rochester, January 8th, 1958

On his Day, remembering when Martin Luther King visited Rochester, January 8th, 1958

Martin Luther King (center) during his 1958 visit to Rochester. Dr. Lunsford is to his left, kneeling. [Photo: Charles Price]

[UPDATE: see On Dr. Charles T. Lunsford and the house where he entertained Martin Luther King Jr. and Remembering MLK on the 89th anniversary of his birth. And 50 years after his assassination.]

A year ago, in When Martin Luther King was at the home of Charles Lunsford (below), we looked back to an evening in January 1958 when Charles Price took a photograph of Martin Luther King.

Since, Charles continues as vigorous as ever. In 2015 I wrote; “The man [Price] who took the picture is the only one still living.”

Sadly, if not true last year, mostly likely so today. Recently, we lost a Rochester educational treasure Letha Ridley (1911 – 2015) who also was probably in the photograph: woman # 6, fourth from the top right.

Also, another version of the photograph was discovered (at end). And there might yet be some other photographs still recoverable. The hope is to find a reproducible version that can be framed in the entrance lobby of the Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School (No. 19).

And King’s legacy lives on.

Last week in When Obama invokes Martin Luther King, George Payne discussed whether President Obama use of King’s ideas in his State of the Union address was appropriate for a speech praising America’s military supremacy.

And on Saturday was the MLK Conference on Finding Solutions (sponsored by the United Christian Leadership Ministry) held at the at the Wilson Foundation Academy on Genesee Street. Anti-violence event harnesses spirit of Rev. King (D & C)

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Button from the 2016 MLK Conference on Finding Solutions Rochester, NY 1/16/16

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Rev. Lewis Stewart, a founder of the United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York, interviewed by Amy Hudak of Channel 13 News at the MLK Conference on Finding Solutions, Wilson Foundation Academy, Rochester, NY 1/17/16

When Martin Luther King was at the home of Charles Lunsford

• January 18, 2015

The man who took the photograph [featured picture above] is the only one still living.

On January 7th, 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Rochester to speak at the Rochester City Club and the Colgate Divinity School. That evening he was invited to a private reception at the home of Dr. Charles T. Lunsford, Rochester’s first known licensed African-American physician. Accompanying King was Rochester Police Officer Charles Price who served as his bodyguard. Ten years earlier Price had become the first African-American police officer in the RPD.

King speaking at the Rochester City Club, January 1958

King speaking at the Rochester City Club, January, 7th 1958, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

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With Congresswoman Louise Slaughter at the MLK Conference on Finding Solutions, Wilson Foundation Academy, Rochester, NY 1/17/16

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Price in his Henrietta home.  Price, now in his 90′s, greeted me with vigor — actually in his Buffalo Soldier uniform on his way to, yes, Buffalo for a reenactment.  There Price showed me a copy of the original photograph which he had taken (the negative, unfortunately, lost).

Price explained that Lunsford had invited the most prominent members of the Rochester black middle class for a reception following King’s talk.  One by one he recalled the participants, all of whom are gone, as would be King only ten years later.

I asked Price how he thought race relations had changed since 1958 when King inspired Rochester and the nation. Some things are better, he brightened. Then, more halting, some things are worse.

He’s right, of course.  Since 1958 Rochester has seen African-American Mayors, Police Chiefs, School Principals and Superintendents. And School # 19 is named for Dr. Lunsford. And people like Price are more than welcome in towns like Henrietta.

On the reverse, segregated schools.  And perpetual urban poverty.

Democrat and Chronicle, 26 Oct 1962, Fri, Metropolitan, Page 21

King at the War Memorial. Democrat and Chronicle, 26 Oct 1962, Fri, Metropolitan, Page 21

King visited Rochester once more in 1962.

SEE ALSO

On Dr. Charles T. Lunsford and the house where he entertained Martin Luther King Jr.

When NBA history was made at Edgerton Park

Do you remember in 1967 when Muhammad Ali spoke at Franklin and Madison?

See the “News” at Northeast: Booker T. Washington’s visit with George Eastman

Anticipating the Ferguson verdict

Reflecting on the RCSD’s most tumultuous year, 1971

51 years ago when Malcolm X was assassinated 5 days after his prophecy in Rochester. And his Speech to Mississippi Youth

Constance Mitchell recalls Malcolm X’s February 1965 visit to Rochester

Reflecting on the 1960 Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins at Robert Brown High School

king-at-Lunsford

Martin Luther King (center) during his 1958 visit to Rochester. Dr. Lunsford is to his left, kneeling.

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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