Martin Luther King III was just 11 years old when his father Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on April 4, 1968.
The following year, the first library in the country named in honor of the civil rights leader opened its doors in East Columbus.
Bookended by grandfather and son, the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s MLK branch began its new chapter a few blocks away from its former location on Long Street in East Columbus.
“It’s a special honor to come here and follow my grandfather, who dedicated it in 1969, almost 50-years ago,” said King, who is now 61.
King spoke to VIPs at nearby East High School before speaking inside the brand new state-of-the-art MLK library branch, about his father’s legacy and the issues he gave his life for that are still relevant today.
“We appear to be a divided nation and unfortunately the politics that exist today creates that climate. We are not operating at the highest level as a nation that we can whether it’s the Democratic party or Republican party,” he said.
King said his father’s vow to bring communities together and the library are a perfect marriage.
“He was well studied, well learned. And libraries were important to him so it’s certainly appropriate. And a library named in his honor certainly can bring people together,” King said.
It’s that life principle that Martin Luther King III hopes visitors reflect on while walking below the brightly lit outdoor video of his father rolling as they enter the library bearing his name.
“The hope is that you wanna learn civility. You wanna learn how we coexist around a world, using the techniques of non-violence to move an agenda forward,” he said.
The MLK branch is one of 10 that The Columbus Metropolitan Library is overhauling as a project that started in 2014. It is expected to be finished in 2020.
A community open house will be held from noon until 3:00 p.m. at the MLK branch on Saturday, Oct. 20.