UW-Whitewater has hosted its fair share of important or popular speakers and guests. President John F. Kennedy made Whitewater a stop on his campaign trail prior to his election, and, rumor has it, Adam Sandler once gave a comedy show in the Down Under. However, neither of these guests hold quite the same importance, influence, and reputation as Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
On July 25th 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Wisconsin State University – Whitewater ( now University of Wisconsin – Whitewater) as part of a summer lecture and concert series. For the series, Dr. King spoke on “The Future of Integration” in a free lecture that was open to the public. Summer classes were even rearranged so that every student had the opportunity to attend. The event drew a large crowd of university students, Whitewater citizens, and community members from the surrounding areas, leaving only standing room in the back of the auditorium. According to an article in the Whitewater Register, Dr. King’s eloquent way of speaking captivated the audience and often left the crowd in a hushed silence. His speech focused on the importance of the continuation of nonviolent protests and resistance. According to Dr. King, at the time of the event, 13 out of the 17 southern states that were completely segregated in 1954 had integrated and one more was to be integrated in the coming months. King celebrated this progress but stressed that there was much more to be done before integration and equal rights were recognized throughout America. After his speech, Dr. King met with the public and answered questions backstage.  Overall, the lecture was a successful addition to the summer lecture series and Whitewater was fortunate to host such an important historical figure.
 “Martin Luther King Speaks this Morning,” Royal Purple (Whitewater, WI.) July 25th, 1961.
 “College Auditorium is Filled as Integration Leader Speaks.” Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI.) July 27, 1961.