Yale salute to MLK continues this week, features evening with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Yale University’s commemoration of the Martin Luther King holiday continues with more events honoring King’s life and legacy, including a special conversation with Yale alumnus Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Saturday, Jan. 25. Yale’s King celebrations are open to all on campus and throughout the New Haven community at no charge.

Evening with Gates

The conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 in the auditorium of the Sterling Law Building, 127 Wall St. The evening will include a screening of “A More Perfect Union (1968–2013),” the final episode of the recent six-part PBS documentary series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” that he wrote, presented, and produced.

At Yale, Gates was scholar of the house in history and a member of Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1973 and went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in English at Clare College, University of Cambridge. He is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

A celebrated writer, critic, teacher, and cultural historian, Gates is the author or editor of over two dozen books. He has received more than 50 honorary degrees, as well as a MacArthur Foundation Award, often referred to as a “genius grant.” A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Gates was a winner in 1998 of the National Humanities Medal and he was selected in 2002 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver the Jefferson Lecture, known as “the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.”

And more …

Additional events on campus and in the community to honor King include:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 21: Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center, 211 Park St., will host "Remembrance, Reflection, Renewal: Honoring the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” a reception and photography exhibit sponsored by the Black Student Alliance at Yale, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 22: “Race Relations in the Obama Era,” a discussion with Gerald Jaynes, professor of economics and African American studies, sponsored by the Yale Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, in the Hall of Graduate Studies, Rm. 211, 320 York St., from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 26: The Black Church at Yale will hold a Martin Luther King Jr. Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. at the Afro-American Cultural Center, 211 Park St.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 28: "Commingling: A Performing Arts Celebration," in Sudler Hall, Rm. 201 of William L. Harkness Hall, 100 Wall St., from 7 p.m. To 10 p.m., with performances by Shades of Yale, Teeth, WORD, Nya Holder of the Heritage Theater Ensemble, and more.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 29: Following a screening of “Black Power Mixtape,” Jeffrey Ogbar, chief diversity officer for the University of Connecticut and professor of history, will host a talkback session with Nicholas Forster, Yale doctoral student in the African American and film studies programs, moderated by assistant dean Theodore Van Alstin in Loria Hall, 190 York St., Rm. 250, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Campus celebrations of the King holiday began with the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s “18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice” event on Sunday, Jan. 19 and Monday, Jan. 20, a Day of Service with partners in New Haven organized by Dwight Hall at Yale. On Monday, The Yale Guild of Carilloneurs marked the holiday with special selections rung on the Yale Memorial Carillon in Harkness Tower. Songs included “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson, the author, educator, songwriter, and early civil rights activists whose legacy is preserved at Yale in the Beinecke Library’s James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection.

Yale’s celebration of King’s legacy has a long tradition. King spoke to a full house in Woolsey Hall on Jan. 14, 1959, about the future of integration and the civil rights movement, and celebrated his 30th birthday, Jan. 15, that year on campus. In 1964, Yale presented King with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. The citation read: “As your eloquence has kindled the nation’s sense of outrage, so your steadfast refusal to countenance violence in resistance to injustice has heightened our sense of national shame. When outrage and shame together shall one day have vindicated the promise of legal, social, and economic opportunity for all citizens, the gratitude of peoples everywhere and of generations of Americans yet unborn will echo our admiration.”