Fort Wayne Showcases Special Preview Of MLK Documentary

By Emily Dwire - 21Alive
By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

August 25, 2013 Updated Aug 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Many people are celebrating this weekend as it marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington.

Dr. King came to Fort Wayne on June 5, 1963. He spoke at the former Scottish Rite, which is now called the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center.

That's where the University of St. Francis (USF), PBS 39, the Martin Luther King Club, and the Fort Wayne Urban League collaborated Sunday for a special preview showing of the PBS documentary "The March."

“It’s not just a compilation of news footage from the actual day, it’s a telling of the story of what it took to bring the march to Washington and the months that ran up to it in 1963,” said Mark Ryan, Creative Services Manager at PBS 39.

Organizers say the documentary is a reminder of how far we've come, but also how far we still have to go.

“With some of the things that have happened recently, especially the race debate that’s going on, it’s very important that we all find a way with Dr. King’s dream to live together in harmony and peace,” said Bennie Edwards, President of the Fort Wayne Martin Luther King Club. “Some of our younger people, don’t know, have forgotten, and don’t realize the importance of the Civil Rights Movement and Civil Rights struggle.”

Ryan echoed that sentiment by saying the event marks a definitive place in American history.

“You’re never going to know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. This is one definitive place in history where Americans need to know where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, and how far we probably need to go,” said Ryan. "America is a work in progress and we probably always will be. And unless we can talk about the issues we had in '63, that we have in 2013, that we may have in 2113, we'll never be able to work through them and learn to live together.”

Photos of Dr. King’s visit to Fort Wayne, taken and donated by the News-Sentinel and Journal Gazette, were on display, and the same podium where Dr. King stood and delivered his speech is still at the Performing Arts Center and was also on display for people to take photos.

Ryan says Fort Wayne is just one of seven cities nationwide that's showing the preview. The documentary will debut on Wednesday, Aug. 28, the date Dr. King gave his historical “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington D.C. It will show on PBS 39 at 9 p.m.

Also on Wednesday, organizers will hold a panel discussion on what it was like in Fort Wayne during the Civil Rights Era. The panel includes Hanna Stith, founder of the Fort Wayne African and African-American Historical Museum, Edward N. Smith, publisher of Frost Illustrated, and Larry Lee, an MLK historian. The panel discussion will be held in the ballroom at the USF Performing Arts Center from 3:30 – 5 p.m.

“This is a chance for people to experience history, not from re-enactors, but by people who actually lived it, and that’s really pretty special—extraordinarily special,” said Ryan.

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