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Ford Hall Forum Event Commemorates Anniversary of Stirring MLK Speech

"The great challenge facing America at this hour is to work passionately and unrelentingly to bring the ideals and principles of this...period into full realization. Certainly we don’t have long to do it.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Ford Hall Forum, 1963

The Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University will commemorate the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s March 24, 1963, speech “The Future of Desegregation” with an evening of reflection and dialogue. Portions of original audio from the speech will be featured during the March 20 forum, "Moving Toward Justice: Reflections of MLK Jr.’s Vision for a United America, 55 Years Later," along with readings and a panel discussion of faculty experts moderated by History Professor Robert Bellinger.

“The Future of Desegregation”

The audio from King’s original 1963 speech includes these highlights:

Speaking to critics who claimed legislation was not the right course for improving civil rights and changing attitudes, King acknowledged the importance of education and religious leadership, but said:

“It may be true that morality cannot be legislated; but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart; but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me; but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important, also.”

Three weeks after the Ford Hall Forum address, King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, for leading an anti-segregation march.

The forum will be held from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Suffolk University's Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St. Admission is free and open to the public; RSVP at

Ford Hall Forum

The Ford Hall Forum is the nation’s oldest free public lecture series. It promotes freedom of speech and fosters an informed and effective citizenry through events that illuminate the key issues facing our society. King addressed the Forum three times -- in 1956, 1963, and 1967.

The forum presents knowledgeable and thought-provoking speakers in settings that facilitate frank and open debate.

Admission is free and open to all.

Media Contact

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs