7 feb 1968 & vernard gray
"1968 was a pivotal year for me."
Vernard Gray (2017)
#OTD Wednesday 7 February 1968 Vernard R. Gray and his father, Vernard D. Gray, drove to the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church (1630 Vermont Avenue, NW) to hear Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., give a speech titled, "In Search of a Sense of Direction."
"We were members of Ward Memorial A.M.E. Church (241 42nd Street NE) in Ward 7 and heard Reverend King was to speak that evening and decided to go." Before leaving for the speech, Gray grabbed his Nikon F camera with a 135 mm lens. When they arrived at the church, it was filling to capacity.
Gray took out his camera and began photographing King. The photo above is one of the many that he took during King's 44 minute speech. "I was so involved in photographing Dr. King that I can't remember the first word of his speech!"
"This was the second time my father and I heard him speak live. The first was at the 1963 March on Washington, when both my parents took off from their "good government jobs" to attend. My father really felt proud to march down Constitution Avenue past his Commerce Department place of employment and wave at his co-workers who chose not to participate. I was really proud of both of them!"
Please comment below. Were you also at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church to see & hear King? Were you a member of the church? Do you have a photograph, program or other piece of ephemera from that night? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy of Vernard Gray. Please credit him as photographer.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University. There may be audiotape of the speech.
Big thank you to Vernard Gray for his generosity in sharing his photographs and his memories, and for visually documenting DC for 50+ years. Before I spoke with him, I didn't know that King had spoken at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church. I was familiar with his speech at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (1313 New York Avenue, NW) for the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam meeting and march the day before. To learn more about King in DC, see an online exhibit I co-curated with the DC Public Library.