**Connecticut Explored Magazine 20 for 20 Game Changer Award Recipient**
MLK in CT Memorial ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the summers of 1944 and 1947, a freshmen from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia arrived in Connecticut to begin working in the tobacco fields in Simsbury. On Sundays, he and other students would go to the First Church of Christ to attend an service. This particular student, just 15 years old, was selected to be the religious leader for the group of young men and led meetings at the dorms where topics such as changing the world and contributing to society were discussed. His name was Martin Luther King Jr. In letters home to his mother, MLK implies that his call to ministry developed during his time here in Simsbury. In his application to Crozer Theological Seminary School, Dr. King described his call that this decision “came about in the summer of 1944 when [he] felt an inescapable urge to serve society. In short, [he] felt a sense of responsibility which [he] could not escape” (King Institute, Stanford). Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would go on to dedicate his life towards justice, peace, and equality.
In 2010, a group of students from Simsbury High School set out on a mission to research Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s time in Simsbury. With support from the Simsbury Free Library, they created a documentary on Dr. King and the two summers he spent working and living in Simsbury during the 1940s. The documentary was featured on the CBS Evening News and received national acclaim, but the students saw this as just the beginning. In 2011, these students formed the MLK in Connecticut Committee dedicated to building a memorial in Simsbury to honor Dr. King and keep his dream alive. Current student members broke ground this past fall (October 2018), and we anticipate its dedication summer 2019. There are still sponsorship opportunities in the Memorial available. Supporters can purchase personalized bricks that will be placed throughout the pathway. We are continuing to raise funds, as we are not only building the memorial, but also, creating educational and enrichment programming for the future. We are very fortunate that Martin Luther King Jr. was here in Simsbury at an important time of self discovery. He was a young man figuring out who he wanted to be. We hope visitors to this memorial will be educated, engaged in self discovery and self correction and inspired to live a life of inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance.