News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local NewsIndianapolis


Indianapolis' MLK Memorial Park: From small park to national icon

Posted at 10:30 PM, Apr 03, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- Years ago, it was just a small park in the middle of a rough part of Indianapolis' north side. 

But after Sen. Robert Kennedy's speech following the death of a civil rights icon., Martin Luther King Memorial Park became a part of history. 

On the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech at 17th and Broadway in Indianapolis. It was supposed to be a campaign speech for president. Instead, he became a voice for peace, keeping the city safe when others turned to violence.

PREVIOUS | 50 years later, Hoosiers remember Robert Kennedy speech in Indy

There is a push to keep that moment alive in history and use MLK Park to fight divisiveness and use it to attract people here.

"This was something very special and very unique to our community," Ind. Sen. Jean Breaux said. "And in particular, our African-American community."




Breaux is a member of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative or KKMI. The non-profit is leading the momentum to enhance MLK Park with historical markers and artwork. 

Some of those enhancements are new steel and concrete panels and raising money to renovate and expand the park's visitor center.

"It is a moment in time that we want to continue to let live through us, through our history," Ind. Rep Greg Porter said. "To know where we are. And where we need to go."

Robert Kennedy in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968 from Kennedy King on Vimeo.

Porter is spearheading an effort to designate the park as a national commemorative site. 

"We want people to take pride in their neighborhood, pride in their city," Breaux said. "And pride in that 17th and Broadway Park."

If KKMI gets it way, Kennedy's speech could play a more prominent role in your children's history lessons in schools. 

"So we want this moment, which is very unique to Indiana, and it has relevance now," said Amy DiStaulo, the KKMI executive director. "It has an impact now because it's still. That moment in history and the meaning behind it all really has some lessons for today as well."

DiStaulo said she has a task force working on getting the event included in Indiana standards for history and change school curricula. 

On the 50th Anniversary, the Kennedy-King Memorial Initiative is celebrating with multiple events including:

  • Still We Reach: Community Reflection & Conversation with John Lewis and Kerry Kennedy at 10:30 a.m. 
  • Still We Reach: KKMI 50th Commemoration Ceremony Landmark for Peace Memorial at 5 p.m. 




MORE TOP STORIES | Woman overdoses on heroin in bathroom at Riley Hospital for Children | Co-defendant in federal Grundy case to plead guilty to trafficking in heroin, meth | New Palestine mom says popular hair product left family's hair falling out in clumps | Man fills up gas tank, only to find water | 22-year-old arrested in connection with St. Patrick's Day murder

Top Trending Videos