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Fort Worth Commemorates 1959 King Visit With Historical Marker

January 21,2019

See full NBC 5 special here.

• 9 a.m. – Marker unveiling ceremony
• 11 a.m. – MLK Day Parade begins

Full Text on the Marker:

"A Great Time To Be Alive"

On October 22, 1959, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pastor, civil rights leader and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) made his only visit to Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Vada Phillips Felder, local educator, activist, and friend of Dr. King’s had invited him to Fort Worth when they both attended a church conference in Nashville. Upon his arrival, Dr. King was greeted by African American community leaders. He also experienced some anger, hate and bomb threats. He stayed upstairs in Vada Felder’s home on Stewart Street, and attended a reception at the Bellaire Drive West home of the Revs. Alberta and Harold Lunger, Professor of Social Ethics, Brite College of the Bible (now Brite Divinity School) at Texas Christian University. That evening four hundred people were in attendance when Dr. King spoke at the historic Majestic Theater at 1101 Commerce Street. On that occasion the theater was integrated when African Americans were, for the first time, allowed to enter through the front door and sit in the lower seats.

In 1954 Vada Felder was the first African American to graduate from Brite College of the Bible with a Masters of Religious Education. She was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church for over 50 years, authored Christian Education materials, founded and operated United Christian Leadership School, and taught in Fort Worth’s James Guinn Elementary School and at Bishop College. She said that Dr. King’s visit “…gave us courage. He taught us that we could stand up and do what was right – and do it in peace”.

It was truly a great day to be alive in Fort Worth, Texas.

Location Mentioned: General Worth Square