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Ohio Northern University Plans to Honor Dr. King

Photo of the plaque commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech on Ohio Northern's Campus in 1968. (Wikipedia Photo/Bmamlyuk)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an icon of the civil rights movement, and his speech at Ohio Northern University was a signature moment in the history of the University, said President DiBiasio.​

Dr. John Lomax had the same thoughts when he had the idea to commemorate the speech that Dr. King gave here on Northern's campus by commissioning the creation of a statue.​

The statue is set to be dedicated on April 17, 2018, just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death. The Statue will be placed on the south side of Taft Memorial, the building where the speech took place.​

The university has put together a committee of faculty members and administration to oversee the project. The committee members include; President DiBiasio, Dr. John Lomax professor of history, Dr. Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Melissa Eddings-Mancuso of the art department and University Archivist Paul Logsdon. Members of the committee approved the design of the statue on Dec. 8, moving the production of the cast into its final stages before its unveiling in April.​

The dedication will include a ceremony with top school officials and alumni. Dr. Lomax added,​

[The Committee] is trying to get some marquee speaker to speak at the dedication… If they get it, I will be as surprised as you will.

In preparation for the dedication of the statue, the committee will be working alongside the chapel in the production of a four-part informational session held in January, February and March of 2018. These sessions will represent the past, present and future of Martin Luther King Jr. and his work with the civil rights movement.​

Dr. King left his mark on ONU when he spoke here back in 1968, leaving many students, faculty and Ada residents with a memory that will last a lifetime. The committee has sent out a request for statements from anyone in attendance on the day of the speech, in efforts to capture the feeling and emotion from the day he spoke. These quotes will be read allowed by current students and alumni during the four-part program.​

The Ada Icon’s own, Monty Siekerman was on site for the speech and years later he wrote about his experience in this article: I was there - Reflections on the ML King visit to ONU in 1968.​

The speech by Martin Luther King here at ONU was a highlight in the university’s history. However, the speech may have never taken place if it weren't for one group on campus back in 1968.​

Ohio Northern’s Pan-Hellenic Council was essential in bringing Dr. King to campus back in the 60s. When Dr. James Udey, Chaplin at ONU back in 1968 was denied funds from the university to bring King to campus, the Pan-Hellenic Council stepped in and offered to pay for his travel and Honorarium.   ​

When asked why the Council would fund the speech, Dr. Lomax said,​

They wanted to see Dr. King; they were young, it was the 60s, there was rebellion in the air even among sorority girls.

Martin Luther King inspired change in everyone, from the highest levels of our government to college students in Ada, Ohio. The statue commemorating Dr. King's speech will serve as a constant reminder of his work with the civil rights movement and his efforts to promote inclusion and diversity.​

When asked what Dr. King means to the University President DiBiasio said,​

Events of the nation and the University have always been intertwined, and Dr. King’s appearance on campus captured that connection. In a very tumultuous time, Dr. King lived a life based on the courage of conviction, and the University remains dedicated to continuing his legacy of diversity and inclusion.