Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHOTOGRAPHS OF KING FAMILY TO BE FEATURED AT THIS YEAR'S BREAKFAST

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 10, 2003 - Photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family taken by several photographers including Thomas Jesse "T.J." Locke Jr., father of Dr. Ivy Locke, vice president for business and finance at Southeast Missouri State University, will be shown at the 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Breakfast Jan. 20 in the Show Me Center.

Mr. Locke served as a photographer for the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for many years in Atlanta.

The breakfast gets under way at 8 a.m. with the program to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Besides the photography show, the annual breakfast will feature Missouri State Sen. Maida Coleman of the 5th Senatorial District of Missouri as the guest speaker. Coleman represents part of the city of St. Louis. She recently was elected to a leadership position with the Missouri Senate, now serving as assistant minority floor leader. She is the first female and also the first African American elected to a leadership position in the Missouri Senate.

Admission will be $7 for the public, $3 for children ages 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under, $3 for University students without a meal plan, and free for Southeast students with a University meal plan. Tickets will not be sold at the door but will be available in advance at Schnucks Food and Drug through Jan. 16 and at Southeast Bookstore through Jan. 17. Prepaid sponsored tickets for elementary and high school students will be available upon request.

The breakfast also will feature performances by the Notre Dame Regional High School Select Singers under the direction of Ellen Seyer and the Regeneration Gospel Choir of Southeast Missouri State University. Reginald Jennings, a Southeast junior from Mound Bayou, Miss., will preside at the event. Also on the program will be the Rev. Robert Towner of Christ Episcopal Church and the Rev. Charles Bobo, campus minister at the Baptist Student Center. Damien Myers, a second-semester freshman from Jennings, Mo., will be recognized as this year's recipient of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Award.

While photographer T. J. Locke will not be in attendance at the breakfast, Dr. Irene Ferguson, co-chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, said his photos truly show the historical significance of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. Ivy Locke is reticent to talk about her father's work, but she does say the photographs stand as a historical testimony to her father's work and to the Civil Rights Movement in America.

"It just seems like it was a small chapter in his life that ended up being the most famous thing he did," she said.

T.J. Locke attended Savannah State College, where he earned certification in audio-visual aides in photography and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1956. He later earned a master of science in biology degree from Atlanta University, though cameras and photography were always his hobby. He went on to become a biology and math teacher at Harper High School in Atlanta, where he taught for many years, also advising the high school camera club and yearbook staff.

Yet photography continued to pull at his heartstrings, and he soon began taking photographs as a freelancer for several newspapers in the Atlanta area. His work has been published by JET magazine, United Press International and other wire services, and in the Atlanta Voice, the Atlanta Daily World and the Atlanta Inquirer.

In 1963, Coretta Scott King asked Mr. Locke to photograph her family in a variety of settings - at their home, at their church and at Hertz Park.

"Mrs. King would see my father around taking photos at community events and at the Y.M.C.A.," Dr. Ivy Locke said. "He believed in documenting history."

Speaking on photography, Mr. Locke said, "It's about the best thing you can do. I like the fact that you can choose your own product. It's an art. I can see a picture in a split second.

"It's thrilling that I had that opportunity to work that closely with him (Dr. King)," Mr. Locke said. "It was so informal then. I never thought he would become the person he was. They were just ordinary people. I just can't believe I was that close to them. Martin was just an ordinary man around here. I didn't think they (the photos) meant that much" at the time.

Dr. Ivy Locke recalls, as a very young girl, accompanying her father on a photo shoot in the King home. She recalls her father asking her to sit quietly in an outer hallway while he took photos in an adjacent room. The experience for Dr. Ivy Locke still conjures up memories of her childhood fear of an authentic bearskin rug on the floor in the King home, she chuckled.

While this is a distant memory, she distinctly recalls being a classmate of Martin King III at Atlanta University Nursery School. The two graduated from the same pre-school, and Mr. Locke photographed them together waiting to receive their diplomas. The two later attended different schools.

Mr. Locke continued to photograph the King family for a number of years until about the time they gained widespread notoriety.

"I like to say that I was in support of (his movement)," he said. "I really liked his ability to speak. People saw the greatness in him."

Mr. Locke took photographs at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral, and the black and white images were incorporated into the yearbook at Harper High School. The yearbook features Locke's photos of Robert Kennedy and Harry Belafonte at the funeral. The students on the yearbook staff dedicated the high school yearbook to the late Dr. King that year.

Over the years, Mr. Locke has given most of his King photos to the King family.

For additional information about the King Breakfast contact Martin Luther King Planning Planning Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Irene Ferguson at (573) 651-2263 or Dr. Ivy Locke at (573) 651-2570. Details about the King commemoration and Black History Month can be found at http://www.semo.edu/mlk/.

 

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