2. NYS Civil War Centennial Commission (1962)
King was invited by the New York State Civil War Centennial Commission to deliver a keynote address commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, an event organized by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. King expressed hesitation at participating, concerned that appearing at a Republican-led event would offend President Kennedy and hurt the progress of civil rights legislation. Rockefeller sealed the deal by pledging funds to rebuild several African American churches that had been burned in Georgia.
On September 12, 1962, at the Park-Sheraton Hotel (now Park Central), King offered a blistering assessment of America’s lack of progress in advancing equal rights for blacks. The “Proclamation of Inferiority,” he claimed, “has contended with the Proclamation of Emancipation, negating its liberating force.”