Podcast: Connecting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Girard and Toussaint Louverture
Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources at Girard College, was recently a guest on the Story Search From Special Collections podcast by The Free Library of Philadelphia.
Girard College and its founder, Stephen Girard, are deeply entwined with the history of Philadelphia, with connections ranging from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Philadelphia to lend his support to the protests led by Cecil B. Moore against the discriminatory admission policies of Girard College. Many of the community members involved in these protests would have heard the story that Stephen Girard came by his fortune by betraying Haitian general and revolutionary, Toussaint Louverture.
Although there is no historical evidence to prove this story, its telling is intertwined with the Civil Rights Movement and Philadelphia’s African American community. This interesting intersection is explored in a recent episode of the Story Search From Special Collections podcast by The Free Library of Philadelphia.
In addition to addressing the story of Girard and Louverture, Kathy Haas, the Director of Historical Resources at Girard College, talks about the lasting impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the College, the emphasis on social justice for today’s students, and the ongoing connection to Dr. King through the school’s partnership in the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.
Take a listen to the podcast below, and learn more about the Stephen Girard Collection at Founder’s Hall Museum.
Listen: “Now Is the Time. Connecting Three Historical Figures: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Girard and Toussaint Louverture”
Story Search From Special Collections
By The Free Library of Philadelphia
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Philadelphia on August 3, 1965 to protest the discriminatory admission policies of Girard College. Photographs of that visit are now in the Print and Picture Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia and they inspire our discussion today.
Joining us is Mharlyn Merritt, an author and former Free Library employee who attended the march as a teenager; today’s podcast is based in part on her personal account. Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources at Girard College, will talk about how Stephen Girard connects to Toussaint Louverture and the importance of that connection to the Civil Rights narrative in the 1960s. And Professor Marlene Daut, specialist in early and 19th-century American and Caribbean literary and cultural studies at the University of Virginia, will discuss Toussaint Louverture’s role as leader of the only successful slave revolt against European powers in modern history.