'The Struggle Continues' 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic visit

December 12, 2013

In May 1964 Rev. Clarence LaPlante O.F.M., was the young president of St. Francis College – what is now University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. As the college’s spiritual and academic leader during a challenging period in our nation’s history, he felt a unique obligation to uphold the Franciscan tradition of love, justice and charity.

Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When it came to civil rights, LaPlante said it was important “…to make the Maine community more keenly aware of the fundamental problem that has marred our national social life for two centuries.” To that end, the college sponsored the “I Have a Dream” symposium May 6-7, 1964, featuring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other distinguished civil rights leaders.  UNE’s 2014 series addresses the university’s ongoing commitment to social change efforts; all Colleges within the university are sponsoring special events throughout the semester. UNE kicks off the Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday with a celebration at Leonard Hall, the Biddeford Campus location of the 1964 symposium. January events include:UNE commemorates the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic visit to campus in 1964 with a semester-long series of speakers, events and community service in 2014 with the theme “The Struggle Continues.”

While not the first civil rights symposium hosted by St. Francis College – its 1963 event attracted more than 2,000 people – the 1964 symposium was a year in the making and brought in national activists such as Dorothy Day, editor of The Catholic Worker and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and Roy Wilkins, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. There were sessions on civil disobedience, freedom and identity, social justice, and freedom in the North.


January 20th, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Leonard Hall: 50th Anniversary Celebration
The 50th Anniversary Celebration includes the unveiling of the permanent “I Have a Dream” exhibit honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s visit to Maine, featuring photographs and images from the St. Francis archives; musician Mark Rust leading songs from the Civil Rights Movement (with student singers); and the screening of a short documentary film featuring Dr. King’s historic visit to St. Francis College.

January 22, 12:00 p.m. Campus Center MPR, UNE Biddeford Campus
Economic Empowerment and Poverty Income Inequality: New Civil Rights Imperative
Biddeford Campus Keynote by Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.

January 29, 12:00 p.m. Ludcke Auditorium, UNE Portland Campus
Health Empowerment Through Community Engagement
Portland Campus Keynote by Starla Haiston Blanks, Director of Health Promotion and Policy at Policy at Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved at Morehouse School of Medicine.

UNE MLK, Jr. Days of Service
“Everybody can be great…..because anybody can serve.” MLK, Jr.
By volunteering to serve, we honor Dr. King’s legacy of service to others. UNE students, faculty and staff will be involved in a number of volunteer projects as part of the UNE MLK, Jr. Celebration.

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