Original Civil Rights Movement Member Shares Memories of MLK

Ernie Gibson

By Brian Kleemann

Retired College of DuPage administrator Ernie Gibson, Ph.D., shares remembrances of his friend the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a recent program marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

“Being around Dr. King, I learned the spirit of love and the need for forgiveness,” Gibson said. “You couldn’t be afraid.”

Click here for more photos, click here to watch the presentation “Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: His Legacy Continues,” and click here to listen to a radio interview with Gibson on WDCB.

Gibson graduated from Tuskegee University and began his career as an instructor at his alma mater. He went on to serve as director of the student union and associate director for student life at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. In 1966, Gibson was the first African American hired by the newly chartered College of DuPage, serving first as director of campus life and retiring as executive director of business services in 1994. The COD cafeteria is named in his honor.

During the recent presentation, moderated by Sam Mitrani, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at College of DuPage, Gibson shared stories about his friendship with Dr. King, with whom he worked to plan the Montgomery and Birmingham campaigns, the Selma March, and the March on Washington.

“I talked with him the week before he was assassinated,” Gibson said. “He wanted to go to Long Island, an island in the Bahamas, and mobilize people from Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas in order to continue his message about nonviolence, brotherhood and respect.”

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