(MIDWAY) Our inside access reports takes us outside the stadium, and in Liberty County lies an historic place where a civil rights giant worked on a speech about a dream. That speech is now Remembered as one of the most powerful speeches of the 20th century. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked on that speech at the Dorchester Academy, which still stands today near Hinesville.
The historic nature of the Dorchester Academy starts long before it became home to the footprints of a civil right giant. It opened as a school in 1871, built with money connected to the successful legal defense fund for the Amistad, a slave ship where an uprising led to criminal charges, but the young U.S. Court system overturned convictions. The funds established the American Missionary Association, who built the school. Later in the 19th Century, it became the first high school in Liberty County to award students diplomas. Maurice Oxdine Bacon, Assistant Curator of the Dorchester Academy Museum says it was the very first high school for blacks in Georgia.
The Academy’s connection to the civil rights moment is substantial. In the 1960’s, bacon says Dr. King and others like Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young. It was where plans were fine tuned for marches and supporters learned non-violent techniques in civil disobedience. ” They needed a place to train their..non violence and the non violence was here…during..for the walk at Selma.” said Bacon. He adds that he believes if the walls of the dormitory building of the Dorchester Academy could talk, they could tell a special part of Dr. King’s Story. The space the slain civil right’s leader utilized as a living space is decorated as it was back when he was crafting his “I Have A Dream”. The space where Dr. King stayed while at the Dorchester Academy is set up like it was in the 1960’s. Bacon says he feels blessed to volunteer in the museum on the campus. ” Every morning I wake up, I can’t wait to get here..cause I love it. ” Bacon said. The Dorchester Academy operates on donations, grants and the kindness of volunteers. there’s no admission fee. The space is more than a museum, there is meeting space that is utilized for community functions available to the public.