When Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., was asked one July morning in 1964 – the same day three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi – to attend a civil rights rally with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a few hours later in Chicago, his answer was simply, “Where do you need me?”
The result was an iconic picture of black and white leaders locked arm and arm, singing “We Shall Overcome.”
The answer and outcome aptly represent Fr. Hesburgh’s approach to life and his considerable place in history.
Fr. Hesburgh, who died in February 2015 at age 97, was president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987, a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and one of the nation’s most influential figures in higher education, the Catholic Church, and national and international affairs.
“With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “In his historic service to the nation, the Church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor.”