FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local high school history teacher held a book signing at the History Center in Fort Wayne to celebrate the release of his first book.
Chris Elliott, a history teacher at Bishop Luers High School, has authored a book titled Before the Dream. The book discusses Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech given on June 5, 1963, at the Scottish Rite auditorium in Fort Wayne. The speech was held in front of a full capacity crowd.
The book details how turbulent and pivotal of a year 1963 was in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King’s speech in Fort Wayne came just two months before the March on Washington and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Elliott says Dr. King was invited by a group of clergy to address civil rights struggles in Fort Wayne. These issues included restaurants who refused to serve blacks and movie theaters that had segregated seating.
Dr. King’s supporters welcomed him to the summit city with open arms, but there were many who resisted desegregation. The book details how there were bomb threats and protests. Despite fears of violence, the speech was a big success to the desegregation cause.
Elliott says the speech helped motivate city leaders to become more progressive and implement positive changes. “It was shortly after his visit that restaurants, hotels, movie theaters that had segregated seating, or refused to serve blacks whatsoever, changed their policies. And then later down the road, by the late 60s and early 1970s, Fort Wayne Community Schools had some policies that were not totally inclusive…his visit helped implement that change as well.”
Elliott also emphasizes how relevant Dr. King’s message in 1963 continues to be today. The book discusses how the legacy of his visit continues to resonate, even during present-day struggles for equality and inclusion.