Earlier this month, NC State’s English professor, Dr. Jason Miller, presented “When MLK and the KKK Met in Raleigh” and never-before-developed photographs at Witherspoon Cinema in commemoration of MLK. The event documented the 1,800 person KKK march down Fayetteville Street purposefully planned to upstage MLK’s speech here at Reynolds Coliseum on July 31, 1966. The stories of the Capital city and Reynolds Coliseum each has a missing chapter, and it’s this day in July of 1966 when Raleigh was more militarized for combat and prospective violence than on any other day in the 20th century.
Prior to the opening of the gallery, not many affiliates of NC State knew that Dr. King spoke at NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum, and many also did not know of the dark and brutal history of North Carolina’s white supremacists and KKK that worked in strong opposition to Dr. King’s presence in Raleigh. Dr. Jason Miller’s research presents the events of July 31st, 1966 in this gallery: when Dr. King spoke at Reynolds, when the KKK led a protest rally against Dr. King in downtown Raleigh, but also when the citizens of Raleigh and North Carolina counter-protested the Klan with picket signs and a march of their own. While exploring the historical contexts in 1966 when Dr. King came to NC State and Raleigh, the exhibit ultimately challenged attendees and the general public to remember when Dr. King spoke at NC State University and to prevent this important moment of history from being buried again.
Previous outline of the events on July 31, 1966 were first published in The News and Observer. However, you can follow Dr. Miller’s interviews and other updated news coverage as shown below:
NC State Researcher Digs Up Day MLK & KKK Were in North Carolina
Podcast: 1966 – MLK and the KKK in Raleigh
A Piece of Lost History (Cover of The Technician)
The Technician (video)
Landmark Exhibit Unearths History
Also worth noting: our second-year graduate English student, Kelsey Virginia Downs Dufresne, designed the gallery exhibit based on Dr. Miller’s research!
As a courtesy, NC State libraries re-issued and distributed commemorative buttons for the event as well.