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American Journey - A Historical Exhibit at the University of Virginia

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin

The exhibit is called American Journeys and while it encompasses all parts of history, there's one piece given by someone whom you may not expect.

The exhibit's coordinator is talking about a cross that burned in the yard of a white woman named Sarah Boyle in the late 1950s.

The story is amazing because Boyle was a wife of a professor at the then segregated University of Virginia when she became so vocal in support of desegregation during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hung in the library's corner is the actual cross found burning in Boyle's yard, wrapped tightly with strips of burlap that is now scorched stands at a startling five feet.

Boyle's 13-year-old son who thought to take pictures before putting the flames out himself in order to document it is responsible for it being on exhibit. Now, the cross traces a turbulent journey just as Dr. King. Jr. did.

The burned cross, which is preserved in a glass stands as a symbol showing the intensity of the civil rights movement, and of the individual unpopular stands made by an initial small amount of white people.

The story of the burned cross is remarkable, and hits close to home for some. The Boyle family lived just south of Charlottesville off of Route 29.

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Timeline of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life

  • Michael King, later known as Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.

  • September 20, 1944, King began his freshman year at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

  • August 6, 1946, the Atlanta Constitution published King's letter to the editor stating that black people "are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens."

  • In January and February of 1947 King's article, "The Purpose of Education" was published in the Morehouse student paper, the Maroon Tiger.

  • 1948 was a busy year for Martin Luther King, Jr. In February he was ordained and appointed as the assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

  • In June of 1948, King received his B.A. in Sociology from Morehouse College.

  • In September that same year he began his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Penn.

  • May 1951, King graduated from Crozer with a Bachelor of Divinity degree, and delivered the Valedictory Address at commencement.

  • In September of 1951, he began his graduate studies in systematic theology at Boston University.

  • On June 18, 1953, Martin Luther King, Jr. married Coretta Scott near Marion, Ala.

  • February 28, 1954, King delivers the sermon, "Rediscovering Lost Values" at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit.

  • On September 1, 1954, King begins his pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

  • June 5, 1955 Martin Luther King earns his PhD. in Systematic Theology from Boston University.

  • On December 5, 1955 King becomes the president of MIA, the Montgomery Improvement Association.

  • In February of 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared on the cover of Time magazine, as Time’s Man of the Year.

  • During the spring of 1963, King and his staff guided mass demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, where local white police officials were known from their anti-black attitudes.

  • Subsequent mass demonstrations in many communities culminated in a march on August 28, 1963, that attracted more than 250,000 protesters to Washington, D. C. Addressing the marchers from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" oration.

  • In December of 1964, King was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while seeking to assist a garbage workers' strike in Memphis.

  • He died revered by many for his martyrdom on behalf of non-violence, and condemned by others for his militancy and insurgent views.

Source: http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/ (The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University)


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