Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza ribbon-cutting ceremony set for Aug. 28

August 11, 2017

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — State College borough will hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the new Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Aug. 28. The ribbon-cutting coincides with the 54th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King first gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The plaza is located on South Fraser Street, between West College Avenue and West Beaver Avenue. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate the completion of the plaza as a memorial to remind citizens of King's legacy as an advocate for peace, equality and justice — a legacy that lives on in the State College community and around the world.

King visited Penn State’s University Park campus on Jan. 21, 1965, and spoke to an estimated crowd of 8,000 people in Rec Hall.

The program will begin with Charles Dumas, professor emeritus in Penn State’s School of Theatre, reading a section of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Also presenting at the ceremony will be Nick Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost; Marcus Whitehurst, Penn State vice provost for Educational Equity; and AnneMarie Mingo, assistant professor of African American studies and women's studies at Penn State. The program will conclude with a speech by Preston Williams, Houghton Professor of Theology and Contemporary Change Emeritus at Harvard Divinity School, who was associate chaplain at Penn State in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the second African-American professor to be hired by the University.

At the conclusion of the program, State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham will lead in the cutting of an authentic kente cloth to properly open the plaza. Attendees are encouraged to enjoy music and light refreshments in the plaza after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The State College Borough Council passed Resolution 1066 in April 2012 to change the name of Fraser Plaza to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza.

In 2016, the council formed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza Advisory Committee to begin discussing how to redesign the plaza to better commemorate King and be an active public place. Later that year, the council awarded the designing and engineering contract to Derck & Edson Associates. The firm held multiple public-input sessions to ensure the elements and terminology featured in the plaza properly reflect King’s legacy and the State College community.

Construction of the plaza concluded in early July 2017.

Last Updated August 14, 2017