Ahearn Field House
Constructed in 1951, this historic campus building hosted basketball and intercollegiate indoor track competitions until 1988, when Bramlage Coliseum was completed. The building is currently home to several academic departments such as Kinesiology, as well as three pools and offices of several coaches and athletic administrators. Although no longer used for basketball, the building hosts intercollegiate competitions in sports such as volleyball and tennis. Prior to the completion of the much larger Bramlage Coliseum, Ahearn held numerous graduations and speeches, most notably the campus convocation to open the 1968 spring semester that proved to be the final campus speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Backstory and Context
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.
Vietti, Emily. Newly Discovered Recording Brings Martin Luther King's Voice Back to K-State. Kansas State University News Services. January 14, 2011. Accessed December 22, 2016. https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jan11/mlktape11411.html.
Martin Luther King at Kansas State University, Item Number: 221764, Kansas State Historical Society, Kansas Memory website accessed 12/22/2016 http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/221764
San Zeff and Matt Hodap, Dr. King's Last College Stop. Fountain City Frequency. December 20, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2016. http://fountaincityfrequency.com/archiver/2016/12/20/dr-kings-last-college-stop.