Youngstown native recalls meetings with Dr. King

Youngstown native recalls meetings with Dr. King


For Oliver R. Montgomery Sr., meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was like a dream come true.

“He was an awesome man, an awesome personality,” said Montgomery. “For a civil rights activist, meeting Dr. King was like meeting the Pope. It was huge.”

Montgomery, 84, was honored Monday at the Donald Lockett VFW Post 6488 in Coitsville Township, where he received the Trailblazer Award, given each year by the post and its ladies’ auxiliary.

“It’s a great honor,” said Montgomery, who was born and raised in Youngstown and now lives in Pittsburgh. He said the award is especially satisifying because of his military background and his service to the labor movement, as well as his work toward equality in civil rights.

Montgomery said he met Dr. King several times, and recalled their first meeting in New York City.

“We were the same age, so when we met, I told him that we were born in the same year,” Montgomery said. “He asked me what month I was born, and I told him May. He looked at me and said, ‘Well Brother Montgomery, you are just a baby because I was born in January.’”

Montgomery said he helped organize efforts for local residents to travel to Washington, D.C., in 1964, for a rally at which Dr. King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

“Dr. King was supposed to later come to speak here, but the powers that be didn’t want Dr. King in Youngstown,” Montgomery recalled. “They were afraid he would stir the people up.”

Read more in Tuesday’s Vindicator.

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