This month marks the unveiling of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s memorial at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. So many readers were surprised to learn in a story I wrote earlier this year that King visited the San Fernando Valley on Jan. 15, 1961. He was invited to preach at the Woodland Hills Community Church by the then Rev. Fred Doty. King also spoke later that night at Canoga Park High School. That was his only visit to the San Fernando Valley. From my story, which includes audio of his speech at the high school (Daily News, Jan. 16, 2011):
WOODLAND HILLS – They can still see him at the pulpit, hear his voice and the words he spoke in the name of love.
“Love yourself, if that means rational and healthy interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life,” said the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., nearly fifty years ago today inside the Woodland Hills Community Church.
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” King said. “You are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life.”
Pieces of King’s sermon were repeated on Sunday during a special service inside Woodland Hills Community Church, where several members remembered Jan. 15, 1961, as the day when King came to the San Fernando Valley.
He gave two sermons at the church that morning, then later spoke to the community at Canoga Park High School.
“The congregation was really excited,” recalled Kit Hinkle, now in her 80s. “It was really miraculous for white Los Angeles. The Valley was really segregated at that time.”