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Martin Luther King Jr. in Los Angeles ~ Photos from the LAPL Archives

Martin Luther King Jr. had a profound impact on the city of Los Angeles, and his words are still used in this city today to support many social justice movements. While his major speaking visits to L.A. were infrequent by the time he was the national leader of the Civil Rights movement, each one was treasured and remembered vividly by those who were there, especially his rallies at the L.A. Coliseum and the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Please enjoy this selection of photographs from the archives of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Martin Luther King and Governor Edmund G. Brown during a Freedom Rally at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. An audience of 12,000 was expected at the 18,000-seat venue. When over 25,000 people showed up to hear King speak, many remained outside and listened to the speech over loudspeakers. Photograph dated June 18, 1961.

Martin Luther King is honored by the City of Los Angeles and the World Affairs Council during a luncheon held at the Hollywood Palladium. Here he is pictured with (from left), Councilman (and later mayor) Tom Bradley, Supervisor Warren M. Dorn, King, Harold C. McClellan and Mayor Samuel W. Yorty. King arrived in Los Angeles under heavy guard following the assassination of Malcom X. An anonymous bomb threat was made during the luncheon. When addressing the group, King said, "Before the victory is won, some of us will have to get scarred up a little bit." Photograph caption dated February 26, 1965 reads, "City and county officials presented a proclamation to Rev. MartinLuther King, Jr. in ceremonies preceeding [sic] a World Affairs Council luncheon yesterday at the Hollywood Palladium at which King, the Nobel Peace prize winner spoke."

Martin Luther King speaks to a crowd of 4,500 on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. Here, he called for students to join a "Domestic Freedom Corps" to work in 120 counties of the Deep South to help increase the number of registered African American voters.

Rolland Joseph 'Speedy' Curtis was born in Louisiana in 1922. After serving three years in the Marines during World War II, he and his wife, Gloria, relocated from New Orleans to Los Angeles in 1946. Curtis served four years with the Los Angeles Police Department, but resigned from the force in order to pursue both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from USC. He later became involved in city politics, as an associate of Sam Yorty, and later a field deputy to City Council members Billy Mills and Tom Bradley. He was briefly director of the Model Cities program in 1973. Rolland J. Curtis died in his home in 1979, the victim of a homicide. An affordable housing complex on Exposition Blvd. near Vermont Ave. was named in his honor in 1981, along with a nearby street and park.

Photograph caption dated June 1, 1964 reads "Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was greeted enthusiastically yesterday when he addressed a religious rally in Los Angeles Coliseum. On speakers' platform are, from left, actor Dick Van Dyke, radio-television personality Walter O'Keefe, the Rev. John H. Burt, and the Rev. Father Joseph Francis, S.V.D."

Attending the Black History exhibit at City Hall, from left to right, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ethel Bradley, and councilman Tom Bradley.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King chatting with a little girl at Nickerson Gardens housing project in Los Angeles, Calif., 1964

Dr. Martin Luther King arrives at LAX, 1965

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at civil rights rally at Los Angeles Coliseum, 1964

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