Although overshadowed by the success of in-state rival Kansas University, Kansas State enjoyed six seasons where they did not lose a single game in Ahearn Field House. Over thirty-six seasons, Kansas State's men's basketball team posted a record of 369-96.
Despite the affection and warm memories of basketball fans, the historic significance of this building is best understood by one of the academic events held within its wall-the 1968 University Convocation that featured Martin Luther King Jr. King was assassinated in April of that year, making his speech at Athearn the final speech King delivered on a college campus.
King's speech centered on the question of whether the United States has made genuine progress in terms of racial equality. While acknowledging the great strides that had been made in the past century, King reminded the audience of the daily acts of discrimination African Americans faced in and beyond the South. He also criticized the Johnson Administration for the Vietnam War, which diverted resources that might be used to address historic inequalities and poverty throughout the United States.
King's speech was broadcast over the radio, and had it not been for Galyn Vesey, who heard the speech over the radio and contacted the station to acquire a copy, the speech may have been lost. Vesey contacted the Kansas State University archives in 2011 and donated the tape to the university. The original tape was likely destroyed in a 1968 campus fire that was started by protesters against the Vietnam War. Although the speech has been digitized, University Archives has not yet made the recording available on the web. Users can hear the speech in its entirety, however, thanks to a three-part recording of the speech made at a University event.