Search for Memories of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Visit to San Diego - NBC 7 San Diego

Search for Memories of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Visit to San Diego



    Search for Memories of MLK's Visit to SDSU

    Viola Cox talks with NBC 7's Danya Bacchus about the civil rights leader's visit to the San Diego State University campus 50 years ago. (Published Friday, April 4, 2014)

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior is one of the most well-known civil rights leaders in United States history. Yet, there's practically nothing to show for his 1964 visit to San Diego.

    It's pretty unbelievable that nearly a year after his infamous speech in Washington, DC.

    "That's not surprising to me, San Diego was a very segregated city in those days," said Hartwell "Skipper" Ragsdale III.

    "He was very warm, he was very genuine, seemed to be very caring and sincere. I remember when he touched me on my shoulder and on my head. He spoke to me as though I was someone he was very familiar with," explained Ragsdale III who was just 9 years old during the 1964 visit.

    He may be the only other person with a picture of King during his 1964 visit. His father was president of the city's NAACP and responsible for hosting the event.

    It's memories like Ragdale's that San Diego State University says it needs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's San Diego Speech.

    Researchers say there is no video. Audio and transcripts have been lost.

    Viola Cox, 97, was there in 1964.

    "It was very exciting. He was an exciting speaker. He was a very good speaker," Cox said.

    "I remember the young people jumping up and down saying what a speaker, what a speaker. "
    "I don't remember anyone taking a picture," she explains.

    Interestingly, both Cox and Ragsdale say they haven't been approached by San Diego State to share their memories. Both say they will gladly do so.

    San Diego State says if you know anyone with pictures, video, audio or just personal stories from that day you should contact them by email at or call 619-594-3952.