Thirty-three years after my Dad, Rev. Ernest Livingston introduced us, (me and my brother, Oral Alphonso) to the words, ideas–nommo–of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am continually impressed by his courage and leadership. In 1964, on his Nobel prize junket, King apparently resolved to visit East Berlin against the wishes of the United States government. Despite the fact that the State Department confiscated his passport, he traveled to the Communist-controlled part of the city and delivered at least two addresses. The following excerpt and link to the full article describe the impact of the Baptist preacher on East Berliners.
On the international stage, Cold War tension was rife. The State Department was none too keen on the activist’s plans to leave the American sector on the same day of the Michael Meyer incident, going so far as to confiscate his passport. Undeterred, he managed to cross the border anyway, recognized by border officials who accepted his American Express card as valid ID.
The East German authorities might not have formally sanctioned his visit, which had been initiated by Heinrich Grüber, provost at the Marienkirche, but they did nothing to impede it.
“King was opposed to the Vietnam War, he was an advocate for unions and workers’ rights,” points out Streit. “The Americans didn’t want him going off to talk to ‘the Communists’, but for its part, the Party didn’t mind at all.”