Manchester Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 10

Manchester President A. Blair Helman (right) escorts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lunch at the Union during the civil rights leader’s visit on Feb. 1, 1968. Photo on pages 8 and 9 courtesy of Ed Breen. P atty Helman ’74 Magaro still has the church bulletin. Her dad’s notes are scrawled in every space and margin. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t even the scheduled speaker that day in 1960 at Harvard Memorial Church. But when Manchester President Blair Helman and his wife, Pat, heard the brilliant young preacher who was rising to national prominence, they were moved by his message. “You have no idea,” they told Patty when they got home, “how this man is going to impact the world.” They would learn soon. 10 | The Helmans met Dr. King that day and invited him to speak at Manchester, where there was a natural tie. Jean Childs ’54 Young, married to King aide Andrew Young, was a graduate, and she and her sisters and King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, all were from Marion, Ala. King was interested in Manchester, and several years later they set a date for his visit – May 11, 1967. But not everyone was pleased. President Helman received letters from area residents and a few angry alumni who weren’t onboard with integration, equal rights and King’s denouncement of the Vietnam War. They didn’t want King anywhere near Manchester.