Martin Luther King, Jr. Vigil

Martin Luther King, Jr. Vigil

Date
Friday, April 5, 1968

Location
Centennial Park

Organizer
Hope College President Calvin Vander Werf

By Allyson Hoffman


The Martin Luther King Jr. Vigil was held on Friday, April 5, 1968, the day after King’s assassination. Over 1,000 individuals marched from Hope College’s campus to Centennial Park, located at 10th and River Streets. At the park, faculty and students spoke to honor Dr. King.


President Calvin Vander Werf

President Calvin Vander Werf, described by students as an “eloquent speaker,” spoke after the silent walk to Centennial Park. According to the April 1968 Hope College Alumni Magazine, President Vander Werf said, “All mankind stands impoverished at the death of this soldier of peace and apostle of love.”

Then-student Floyd Brady recalls the atmosphere of the day and President Vander Werf’s words in this video.

Other Speakers

Floyd Brady Speaking

The chaplain of Hope College at the time, William C. Hillegonds, gave the opening prayer at the memorial. Reverend Herman Ridder, the president of Western Seminary, gave the benediction. A first-year student, Lorraine Price, sang two songs. Floyd Brady delivered a memorial.

Floyd Brady

Brady had been personally asked to speak by President Vander Werf. Brady, an African-American student and star basketball player at Hope College, was a role model among the students. In a recorded interview decades later Brady explained, “I hadn’t really prepared, but I’d been preparing for 22 years for that speech.”

In the interview Brady recalls the speech he gave and is featured in this video.

Updated Saturday, February 4, 2017