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Mankato group debuts new Martin Luther King Jr. documentary

A special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration was held at Mankato West High School Monday.
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2022 at 10:58 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration was held at Mankato West High School Monday.

It’s where a new documentary on his visit to Mankato made its debut.

King came to town on Nov. 12, 1961.

He gave three speeches that day: two at Centenary United Methodist Church and one here, in the high school auditorium.

That special day in Mankato history is detailed in a new film titled “MLK: 11.12.61.”

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It features audio recordings from that day, highlighting Dr. King’s message promoting equality, denouncing white supremacy and encouraging creative protest.

“Let’s remember that Dr. King came to Mankato not to reassure us that everything would work out in the end given enough time, but rather to alert us to the urgency of changing the existing status quo that denied African Americans their fundamental civil rights, including the right to vote,” explained Dr. Matthew Loayza, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

It’s a message, leaders say, is just as relevant in 2022.

“It’s great to have people see the film, but moreover, it’s good to have people engage in the content and to be willing to come together to address issues of equality,” said Ryan Sturgis, owner of True Facade Pictures.

True Facade Pictures and Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Kessel Institute joined community leaders for its release.

Its first screening streamed live from the same stage where King once stood. Around 500 people tuned in.

“Here, at West High School, where Dr. King spoke now 60 years ago. The fact that he came to what was then Mankato High School to speak about the challenges of the times and the hope for a brighter day reinforced his views that the youth of America can make a positive difference in our collective future,” Mankato Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Peterson stated.

A historical marker will be placed at Mankato West this spring to commemorate his visit.

“When you think about those powerful words that were spoken right here in our own auditorium, and what Dr. King did for the civil rights movement, and for our nation and that a piece of it was right here, and that it really is upon all of us to continue that work,” Mankato West Principal Sherri Blasing explained.

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