A 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech Outside Girard College Resonates With This Philadelphia Family


Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in 1965, speaking out against Girard College's segregation.
Image via YouTube.

Learley and Curtis McAllister were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech outside of Girard College in August 1965, writes Tom Kretschmer for 6ABC

At the time, Girard College was segregated and Dr. King joined Cecil B. Moore and other prominent Philadelphia civil rights leaders in their campaigning to desegregate the school.

Despite being relatively too young to truly understand the magnitude of the speech, the McAllisters can remember being there with their mother on that day. 

In 2010, when Curtis was doing research at the Special Collections Research Center at Temple University Libraries, he discovered a photo in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin of that very day.

In that photo was he, Learley, their late brother Clyde and their late mother. Up to this point, the family had no clue that such a photo existed.

Both Curtis and Learley were positively impacted by the day, and can say it played a small role in their work as they progressed into their adult lives.

The former is a community activist, while the latter is a lifelong educator. 

“I’m going to do everything to keep the dream going on … you’re never too old to keep on marching,” said Curtis McAllister.

Learn more about how a Philadelphia family works to continue the legacy of older generation activists in 6ABC


Dr. King’s visit played a part in integrating one of the city’s oldest schools.

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