A crowd of 1,500 showed up — the largest ever at that time for First Baptist Church North Tulsa. They squeezed in to hear King, a 31-year-old pastor who was changing America.
Patricia Boxley was there. She was 14 years old and with a church group that included her pastor. What she heard inspired her, and — like so many others — her life was influenced by the man who today is honored with Martin Luther King Day.
“The fact that he was speaking out on behalf of people’s rights. Not just black people …” said Boxley, who’s now 71 and lives in north Tulsa. “It was just an awesome experience.”
Three years before the March on Washington and King’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech — and four years before the Civil Rights Act was signed in July 1964 — King delivered an address in Tulsa that remains powerful today.
“This is a man that has a message,” Boxley said, recalling what it was like that July 28, 1960, evening, when she managed to shake King’s hand and get his autograph. “It was such a message of hope. You were just in awe in his presence.”
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Pictured is the cover of program for commemoration services for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at First Baptist Church in 1976. Tulsa World File