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Civil Rights — Past and Present

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The logo at the left of this image will appear on all University communications pertaining to our 50th anniversary celebration.

We are Standing Together at Bradley University.

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech that has become one of the most quoted political speeches of all time. Both elegant and powerful, his brilliantly appointed words captured the hearts and minds of Americans and changed a nation evermore. Martin Luther King III, namesake of the legendary civil rights leader, recently told thousands gathered on the steps of the National Mall — the same steps where his father delivered his landmark speech — that “the fight must continue.”

This year, people throughout the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will engage in meaningful and spirited discussion on how to move forward in the future. Bradley University will be among the many looking to the past for inspiration to help shape the future. 

From Bradley’s beginning in 1897: The University maintained an open admission policy that provided for men and women, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic level or sexual orientation. 

From Peoria’s early days: In 1854, Abraham Lincoln gave one of his first major public speeches against the extension of slavery in front of the county courthouse, and the nation knew that here was a place that sought to respect all people.

And, from its very roots: When Bradley University founder Lydia Moss Bradley and her husband, Tobias, looked for a place to settle, they insisted that it be in a non-slave state.

The University’s schedule of commemorative events will include guest speakers, readings, entertainment and more. Keep informed about these special opportunities and view the media gallery that will be updated regularly by visiting bradley.edu/civilrights. Please join us as we celebrate this historic piece of civil rights legislation. As a community that strives to be inclusive, we welcome your voice. 

Dr. Stacey Robertson, interim dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and an expert on the abolitionist movement, and Brad McMillan, executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, are co-chairs of a campus-wide planning committee.   

— Susan Andrews