13th Annual MLK Celebration Keynote

13th Annual MLK Celebration Keynote

Samuel D. Proctor

Senior Minister Emeritus, Abyssinian Baptist Church

Former President of Virginia Union University and of North Carolina A&T State University

Rev. Samuel DeWitt Proctor was the first person selected to deliver the newly created Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture in 1981, "King: What Progress Since the Dream?" At the time, he was a professor in the Graduate School at Rutgers University and Senior Minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. His well-received keynote led to an invitation as opening keynote for the First National Conference on Issues Facing Black Administrators at Predominately White Colleges and Universities, held at MIT in 1982.

Rev. Proctor met Martin Luther King Jr. while giving a lecture at the Crozer Theological Seminary in 1950; they later became colleagues and close friends. 

In 1969, Proctor was invited to speak on the one-year anniversary of MLK’s assassination at Rutgers University. Impressed by the event, Rutgers administrators offered Proctor an appointment as the newly established Martin Luther King Distinguished Professor of Education. 



Samuel Proctor ​(left) with MIT President Paul Edward Gray (center) and Clarence G. Williams, Special Assistant to the President and Acting Director of the Office of Minority Education, 1981. Courtesy MIT Museum