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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Paris

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Paris

Cover image:  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr - 6 November 1964
Image in public domain

On April 1, 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. granted a press interview in conjunction with a well attended event that took place at the Palais des Sports in Paris' 15th arrondissement.

Organized by the Committee of French-American Support for Racial Integration,  the event was designed to raise support for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Catalog page advertising the sale of a flier for the Palais des Sports event
Image from Swann Auction Galleries

Ina.fr has published this brief interview, during which Dr. King spoke of the broad congressional support for a bill that made the murder of civil rights workers a federal crime, the Watts riots, and the then-current state of affairs in Chicago.  He declared that racial injustice in the U.S. was the country's greatest problem.

Listen to the interview (with simultaneous translation into French) here: https://www.ina.fr/audio/P13198905

1966 was not the first time Dr. King visited Paris.  He also came in March 1957, February 1959, and October 1965. 

I wrote about the latter trip in a previous blog post (http://entreetoblackparis.blogspot.com/2015/10/50th-anniversary-of-dr-martin-luther.html).

There seems to be no danger of Dr. King being forgotten by citizens in the Paris region.  At least three municipalities in the area have honored him through construction and landscaping.

The City of Paris boasts the magnificent Parc Clichy-Batignolles Martin Luther King in the 17th arrondissement, created on land that was designated for the Olympic Village, had Paris won its bid for the 2012 summer games. 

Lush greenery at Parc Clichy-Batignolles Martin Luther King
© Discover Paris!

A neighborhood in the same arrondissement was baptized Quartier Martin Luther King in 2019.

The town of Bussy Saint Georges named a high school after him.

In the Paris suburb of Creteil, a Protestant evangelist church called Eglise MLK was founded in 2004.  The organization raised funds to build a massive sociocultural center that also bears Dr. King's name.  Located on a new street called rue Martin Luther King, Espace MLK Grand Paris is scheduled to open this year.

To see images and read about this structure (in French), click here: https://www.ville-creteil.fr/equipement-lespace-martin-luther-king-ouvre-ses-portes