In 1965, a senior at Duke University had the opportunity to spend the night in one of Oakwood’s dormitories. He said that “The reason was far more significant than just a night at another college. I had just returned from the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery and the rally in Montgomery that afternoon. On my way home to Louisville (…), I was flagged down by a group of students from your school (after I had been refused dinner at a local restaurant). Somehow, they trusted this young white boy with a Kentucky license. They too had been to the March and were returning to their dorm when their (…) VW broke down on the highway. They asked for a ride and climbed into my dark blue Buick Skylark. When I asked if we should try to get help for their car, they said “Just drive.” (It seems the Klan had driven by and warned them with a shotgun to get out of there. They just wanted to get back to the safety of Oakwood.) They allowed me to sleep in the dorm that night, told me I was integrating the showers the next morning, and took me to breakfast.“Being young and naive, I never quite realized the significance of our encounter, so I took no names or addresses. Neither did they. That is a huge regret on my part. I wish I could contact these men today to ask about their lives and experiences since that day. Is there a way you can put out some feelers to identify these men (…)? I would be very grateful. I'd love to have a chance to correspond with them if possible.“Thank you for your help and for the hospitality shown to me in 1965 by your wonderful school.”That gentleman’s name is Steve Porter, now an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky. Through the magic of the internet, a message was sent to the Oakwood Acts & Facts distribution list, and responses came in from all over the country. Steve’s six passengers – Neal Arthur (California), Harvey Holland (Maryland), Ben McAdoo (California), Maceo McGoodwin (Massachusetts), Don Monroe (Alabama), and Russ Wendell Nelson (California) – have been identified and have been in contact with their ‘angel’ again – 44 years later. Porter said that “We were all just doing what we knew was the right thing. Those young men from Oakwood were no different from me. They were "angels" too for putting themselves on the line and making the trip to Montgomery. We were all in it together and equally. That was the beauty. We have come a long way since but still have a long way to go.” An interesting sideline to this story is that Elder Pinkney (then President at Oakwood) had told the students not to attend the March, but these six students attended anyway.“I was just a 21-yr old kid (…), not a black man venturing into an area surrounded by angry, ignorant Klansmen. I was only told to ‘get out of here’ by the locals. Nobody threatened my life. You (the six Oakwood students) all were the courageous angels for the cause, heading into territory where blacks were killed with impunity. “Forty-four years ago was a long time, but I have never forgotten all of you. Let's talk, let's get together, (…), but, most importantly, let's remind others what it was all about, what it took, and what still needs to be done. There's much more to share. (…) This has been a part of my life for 44 years, and I never expected to meet or talk to any of you again. But now, we have talked and we will meet and we will be able to share this experience with each other and anyone else who cares to hear us.”
The speech Dr. King gave on March 25, 1965 has been called either the "Our God Is Marching On" speech or the "How Long, Not Long" speech by historians. With a quick search on Google, you can read the whole speech or hear excerpts from it.
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