Adams State hosts Reverend Kyles on January 20

(01-18-2011)

Nationally known civil rights leader, Reverend Samuel Kyles is coming to the Adams State College campus at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Richardson Hall Auditorium, as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Week. Kyles was on the balcony with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when King was assassinated. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ed Crowther, chair of the history/government/philosophy department, said, “"In addition to his important role as a pastor in Memphis,Kyles' is the last "witness" to King's death; for 42 years, now, Kyles' mantra has been: "You may kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream."

According to History Makers , Kyles, a longtime leader in the civil rights movement, has been pastor of the Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, since 1959. After Memphis sanitation workers went on strike in 1968, due to low wages and inhumane working conditions, Kyles helped to form and lead the effort to gain community support for the striking workers. He invited King to Memphis in support of the strike. After an organized march, that ended in violence, due to paid provocateurs, King returned to Memphis determined to lead a peaceful march. On April 3, 1968, King delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. The next day, he was assassinated. Kyles is the only living person that actually spent the last hour of King's life with him.

Kyles has maintained his involvement with civil rights work since the 1960s. He is a member and founder of several civic and professional organizations. He has appeared in several television documentaries about the life and assassination of King and has toured the country extensively, speaking on King and his message. Kyles has received many honors and awards, including the Tennessee Living Legend Award in 1992.

For more information about Adams State Martin Luther King Week, call 719-587-7827.