SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, his life is being remembered as one of the reasons Shreveport's historic Old Galilee Baptist Church still stands.
The church built by slaves was used by King as a platform of encouragement and perseverance.
"I think if Dr. King hadn't spoken at Galilee in '58. this would just be another facility … that's about to be abandoned, abolished rather," said the Rev. Dr. C.E McLain.
Old Galilee Baptist is a historic site in Shreveport.
"Dr. King's speech has given it a special place in the hearts of not only black people but many white people, especially people in our culture. And we can't wait to see it restored," McLain said.
In March, the city announced that the U.S. Interior Department and National Park Service would be awarding a $500,000 grant.
Mayor Ollie Tyler said the money will go toward turning the church into a civil rights museum.
Although King's visit is credited as one of the reasons for Old Galilee's rebirth. McLain admits that at the time, there were some reservations.
"There had been other parts of the state ... . I don't remember the locations, but in Mississippi and other places where churches had been burned and bombed before King came to Shreveport. So that was a legitimate concern."
McLain expects the church to open its doors as a museum in about three to five years.
Until then, many of the artifacts are being held at Shreve Memorial Library's main location in downtown Shreveport.