Yale invites community to celebrate legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in New Haven in June, 1964, when he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Yale.Yale University will honor the life and work of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. with celebrations and services on campus and in the New Haven community.

This year’s events will feature a performance by 100 Men in Black Male Chorus from the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. The group is an independent, community-based organization with members representing all ages, ethnicities, and walks of life. The concert will take place 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20, at Battell Chapel, corner of Elm and College streets. Sponsored by the President’s Office and the Yale College Dean’s Office, the event is free and open to the public. Doors to Battell Chapel will open at 3:15 p.m.

Members of the community are invited to join 100 Men in Black Male Chorus at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Battell Chapel for a sing-along. The song that will be taught will be performed during the concert.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave., will open its doors once again for its annual event in honor of the civil rights leader. The “17th Annual Festival Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice” will take place on Sunday, Jan. 20, from noon to 4:30 p.m. and on Monday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the museum is free on both days.

The two-day event will include musical and dance performances, storytelling, and educational activities for visitors of all ages. Highlights of the festival include a talk on “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Moving from Injustice to Justice” by Mustafa S. Ali, a national speaker, trainer, and facilitator on social justice issues. The Peabody also will host its annual “Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Community Open Mic and Poetry Slam,” an opportunity for participants to share their original poetry or rap, and to discuss issues of environmental and social justice.

The full schedule of festival events and registration information is available here

100 Men in Black Male Chorus at the Duke University Chapel (Photo courtesy of 100 Men in Black Male Chorus Inc.)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. In 1964, the University presented him with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. 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.”

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

  • Monday, Jan. 21: "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Master’s Tea with Tanya Fields" will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pierson College Master's House, 231 Park St. Fields is creator and executive director of the BLK ProjeK, which seeks to empower and enrich the lives of under-served women through education, beautification of public spaces, urban gardening, and community programming. The event is free and open to the public.

  • Monday, Jan. 21: St. Thomas More Golden Center, 268 Park St., presents “Let Us Break Bread Together: A Christian Celebration of Dr. King” at 8 p.m. Students and leaders from many of Yale's Christian groups will perform music, as well as offer reflections and inspiration to honor King. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Thursday, Jan. 24: Victor Anderson, the Oberlin Theological School Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University, will deliver a keynote address "Living Between the Arc of Justice and Beloved Community: Times of Crisis and Hope.” The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in Davies Auditorium, Beckton Engineering Building, 15 Prospect St.
  • Saturday, Jan. 26: The Wexler-Grant Community School, 55 Foote St., will host its annual Martin Luther King conference “Visions of the Dream” from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
  • Sunday, Jan. 27: Black Church at Yale/University Church will hold a Yale Joint Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. at Battell Chapel. Bonita Grubbs, executive director, Christian Community Action, will deliver a sermon. The Breath of Life Worship Team and the University Church Choir will perform.