2014 Archives

SMU alumni remember a visit by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


The following story is from the Jan. 19, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. The video is from the Jan. 20, 2014, edition of CBS 11 News. SMU participated in the Dallas MLK Parade on Jan. 18 and is holding various events on campus this week.


CBS 11 News interviews Bert Moore about MLK's 1966 visit.

Scenes from the 2014 Dallas MLK Parade. video

Unity Walk 2014 at SMU
See scenes from SMU's MLK observances. icon camera

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at SMU on 17 March 1966
  Dr. King spoke at SMU on March 17, 1966:

Hear or download Dr. King's speech at SMU audio icon
Transcript of Dr. King's speech at SMU
SMU Student Senate invitation to Dr. King
Daily Campus account of the speech

2014 MLK Dream Week at SMU

Wednesday, Jan. 22

Real Talk: Conversations Around Diversity
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Portico B-C-D

Film Screening: Standing on My Sister's Shoulders
8 p.m.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum

Thursday, Jan. 23

Commemorative Unity Walk
12:30 p.m.
Hughes-Trigg Commons

Click here for more information about individual campus events.

January 21, 2014

Staff Writer

Bert Moore grew up in the all-white Park Cities of the 1950s. He attended all-white schools. The only black people he knew were housemaids.

As a student at Southern Methodist University, he invited the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to speak on campus.

At the time, the local lunch counter still banned black customers. A neighborhood laundry distributed racist pamphlets. SMU’s first black athlete was attacked and spit on.

Dr. King, already a Nobel Peace Prize winner, accepted the invitation.

His speech, delivered on March 17, 1966, is a seldom noted chapter of SMU history. University archives include one photo from the event, which was sponsored by the student government. In it, King stands at the podium, flanked by three students and his assistant.

For Moore, 69, now a dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, the day remains a highlight of his life.

“Whenever I get a chance,” he said, “I tell the story about being Martin Luther King’s chauffeur.”

King’s campus visit came just a few years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. When Moore arrived to pick up King at the Dallas Love Field terminal, he saw snipers on rooftops. King got into the backseat. Police cars drove in front and behind as they left the airport.

Moore, then a college senior, remembers asking King about the Watts riots in Los Angeles and the Chicago Freedom Movement, a new campaign to encourage civil rights activities in northern cities. He told King he’d been to Montgomery, Ala., with two busloads of SMU students and faculty for King’s third Selma-to-Montgomery march.

King answered his questions and asked Moore what he planned to do after college.

“It was the chance of a lifetime,” he said. “He sat in the back seat and I was in the front seat, like a real chauffeur.”

That afternoon, they drove up to SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium for King’s speech. The auditorium was still locked for security. A large crowd of white students and faculty gathered on the steps.

Moore worried about how they’d react. Would they yell and jeer? Would they boo?

“We got out of the car and it was just total silence,” he said, and paused. “I still kind of get chills.

“We started walking up the steps and the crowd just parted — and started clapping.”

Read the full story.