Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King at Antioch College in Yellow Springs in 1965. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Did you know Martin Luther King Jr. was targeted for assassination at local college commencement?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was targeted for assassination during a 1965 commencement speech at Antioch College in Yellow Springs. 

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The “intended gunman,” 19-year-old Daniel Wagner of Baltimore, testified about the plot to the House Un-American Activities committee in Washington D.C. the following year. 

The story, reported in the Feb. 11, 1966 edition of the Dayton Daily News, describes the frightening and bizarre conspiracy: 

“Wagner said he plotted the killing originally with a Savage rifle he purchased through Mrs. Eloise Witte of Cincinnati from a friend of hers, a ‘Mr. Davis’ of Dayton. 


“The original date for shooting King, June 29, 1965, was moved up 10 days when Mrs. Witte learned the speaking engagement had been moved up,” the newspaper reported. 

“According to Wagner, she was to furnish 10 additional men who would fire into the crowd at the outdoor commencement exercises while he, Wagner, shot the Negro civil rights leader.

“The plot was cancelled several days before the event when Mrs. Witte told Wagner she couldn’t get organized for that because of her work at the same time for a rally of the Ku Klux Klan near South Lebanon.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed 296 graduates at the 113th commencement of Antioch College in Yellow Springs in 1965. His wife, Coretta Scott King, was a former student at the school. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANTIOCH COLLEGE ARCHIVES

King, accompanied by his wife, Coretta Scott King, a former Antioch student, addressed the 296 graduates without incident June 19, 1965.

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