Architectural detail of window arches on Old South Church in Boston

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Old South Broadcasts MLK into City Street

Commuters walking their usual route to and from the Copley T Station and through Copley Square today are encountering an unexpected reminder of our country’s history. Walking past the historic Old South Church, pedestrians are greeted by the iconic voice and images of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s 90th birthday, Old South Church is taking his voice to the streets. All day, the church is broadcasting ‘I Have a Dream”, “Our God is Marching On!”, “The Other America,” and King’s final speech of 1968 for passersby to hear. Large images of Dr. King appear in front of the church and inside the Sanctuary posing the question “How can you take up the cause?”

Old South’s Senior Minister, Nancy Taylor, explained, “Throughout the day passersby will encounter the distinctive sound of Dr. King’s voice, his brilliant rhetoric and razor-sharp social criticism.” The installation will reach hundreds of people throughout the day, and Old South hopes that it will inspire those who pass by to think critically and take action on matters of racial and economic justice in an increasingly divided political climate.

The installation was organized by Old South’s (G)RACE Speaks Committee, which promotes education and action around race, racism, and diversity as a theological undertaking.

(G)RACE Speaks Chair Tracy Keene explained, “Given the state of affairs in our nation today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches need to be heard again and again. By taking the initiative to broadcast some of his speeches in our Sanctuary and onto the streets of Boston, it’s our hope that his words will remind all of us that much work has been accomplished. However, we still need to be reminded that racial inequalities and prejudices still exist in our society and we must do all we can to realize King’s dream of racial equality and social justice.”

Deborah Washington, Old South Church’s Moderator, who was last year named one of the 100 Influential People of Color in Boston, said, “Dr. King spoke from divine inspiration and continues as an interpreter of what must be done if we are to finally build the beloved community. Old South Church is ready to do the work of that legacy.”

The installation fits into the church’s long history of progressive social activism. Old South Church played a significant role in early American history through the bold actions of the Sons of Liberty at the Old South Meeting House. There, in 1773, Samuel Adams gave the signal for the “war whoops” that started the Boston Tea Party. This legacy has been present throughout the church’s 349 year history, and Martin Luther King himself even occasionally worshiped there, while Coretta Scott sang in the church.