Yale to honor life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Yale University and organizations in the greater New Haven area are preparing for events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 16, the national holiday in his honor, and throughout the month. Highlights of the events include a keynote address by civil rights leader Diane Nash, multiple events over two days at the Yale Peabody Museum, and exhibitions at campus libraries. The full calendar of events is available here.

Yale awarded Martin Luther King Jr. an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1964.

Yale has a long tradition of honoring King. On Jan. 14, 1959, King spoke to a full house in Woolsey Hall about the future of integration and the civil rights movement and celebrated his 30th birthday the following day on campus. He spoke again at Battell Chapel three years later, on Jan. 14, 1962. In 1964, Yale presented King with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. His honorary degree citation reads: “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.” 

The 2017 planning committee was chaired by Risë Nelson, director of the Afro-American Cultural Center and assistant dean of Yale College. Other members of the committee can be found here.

Civil rights icon Diane Nash to offer keynote address

Diane Nash, a pioneer of the civil rights movement, will offer this year’s MLK keynote address on “Courage, Conflict, and Creative Maladjustment: Speaking Truth to Power Across Generations.” The address will be delivered the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Battell Chapel, 400 College St. at the corner of Elm Street. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the event is free and open to the public.

One of the most respected leaders of the movement, Nash is a former student activist and co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She is widely recognized for her leadership in the first successful campaign to integrate lunch counters in Nashville. While an undergraduate at Fisk University, Nash coordinated the Nashville Student Movement Ride, part of the Freedom Rides, which sought to desegregate interstate travel, and served as a liaison among the student movement, the press, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Nash was integral in the Birmingham desegregation campaign of 1963 and the Selma voting rights campaign of 1965, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Diane Nash, who was a pioneer of the civil rights movement during her student days, will present the MLK Keynote Address on Jan. 25.

Watch several short videos about Nash’s life and legacy here.

Peabody celebrates King’s quest for environmental and social justice

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History presents its 21st annual “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice” events on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 15 and 16. Sunday’s program runs from noon to 4 p.m.; Monday’s from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free both days.

The annual celebration recognizes King’s efforts to ensure environmental and social justice for all people. The term “environmental justice,” coined long after his death, is based on the principle that all members of society have the right to clean air, water, and soil, as well as a right to live in communities where they can raise their families and send their kids out to play in healthy and nurturing natural environments.

Featured performances include Motown, jazz, West African dance and drumming, and hip-hop groups, plus storytelling at the New Haven Museum, one block from the Peabody at 114 Whitney Ave.  On Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m., teens from around Connecticut will participate in the Peabody’s 8th annual Teen Summit. This interactive workshop brings together teens and dynamic youth leaders to focus on the power of youth social activism and ways teens can serve as advocates of social justice in their communities.

Performer Michael Mills with a young drummer at the Peabody’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Events also include Community Poetry Open Mic sessions and the annual Invitational Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Poetry Slam, featuring well-known poets from around the United States. The museum is also hosting a food drive in honor of King.

Full details of all events are available at peabody.yale.edu.

Special exhibitions at Yale libraries

Sterling Memorial Library is presenting “The Kings at Yale,” examining the campus visits of Martin Luther King Jr. (1959 and 1964) and Coretta Scott King (1969). The former was invited to Yale in 1959 by an undergraduate lecture committee and spoke on “The Future of Integration.” He returned to Yale in 1964 to receive an honorary degree. Coretta Scott King was named the first Frances Blanshard Fellow at Yale in 1969. While on campus she met with women graduate students and spoke about the importance of campus unrest in addressing social injustices before a standing-room-only crowd in Woolsey Hall. The exhibition can be found in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St., through March 3. Admission is free; for more information, visit http://web.library.yale.edu.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 121 Wall St., is showing “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance Exhibit” through April 17. Featuring more than 300 artifacts from the library’s James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, this exhibit is also part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the collection’s founding in 1941. The show includes material by Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Carl Van Vechten, Aaron Douglas, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Augusta Savage, Carter Woodson, Alain LeRoy Locke, Gwendolyn Bennett, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Jean Toomer, James Van Der Zee, Gladys Bentley, Arna Bontemps, Laura Wheeler Waring, Wallace Thurman, Ethel Waters, Sterling Brown, and other creators of the era. For more information, visit http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/harlemren.

In addition, the Beinecke will present “In Celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” a special display of King-related items, in one of the library’s temporary exhibition cases noon-5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16. The reading room and other services will be closed for the holiday. Admission to the library is free. For more information, visit http://beinecke.library.edu.

Other events on and around campus

“Hidden Figures” book discussion with the Yale African-American Affinity Group

Friday, Jan. 13; noon-1 p.m.; 221 Whitney Ave, LL5 & 6

Take part in a discussion of “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly, the true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Free.

Exhibition: “Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom”

Jan. 13–July 9; Yale University Art Gallery; 1111 Chapel St.

This exhibition presents photographer Lee Friedlander’s images of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a critical yet generally neglected moment in American civil rights history. Free.

The annual MLK Love March

Sunday, Jan. 15; 10:45 a.m.; Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of New Haven, 100 Lawrence St.

A tradition since 1971, this march is held in remembrance of King on the actual date of his birth.  The march will take place rain or shine. All welcome.

Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Conference

Monday, Jan. 16; 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wexler-Grant Community School, 55 Foote St.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Change.” The event will feature workshops, exhibits, entertainment, and more. The Child Identification Program will be offered again this year. Free.

A Quilt in 9 Squares: Martin Luther King Day at the Eli Whitney Museum

Monday, Jan. 16; 9 a.m.–3 p.m.; Eli Whitney Museum, 915 Whitney Ave.

With resident artist Kiran Zaman, participants will engage in the tradition of quilting with multicultural fabrics and experiment with the icon of the safety pin as a badge of commitment to social connection.

“Stepping Stones of Meditation: A Path Through a World of Uncertainty” by Paul R. Fleischman

Monday, Jan 16; 3:30-5 p.m.; Yale School of Medicine, Mary S. Harkness Auditorium,333 Cedar St.

Dr. Paul R. Fleischman, trained at Yale University and a practicing psychiatrist for over 30 years, will discuss simple and practical methods, based on meditation, that lead to a good life. Free.

Pierson Tea with Blain Snipstal

Monday, Jan. 16; 4:30-6 p.m.; Leitner House, Pierson College

Blain Snipstal identifies as a peasant farmer from Baltimore who is active in the food sovereignty movement, connecting agroecology, agency, and racial justice, and weaving them into his agricultural work.

Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Dinner

Jan. 17; 5-7 p.m.; residential colleges & Hall of Graduate Studies

By featuring world cuisine, this meal is designed to provide students and the Yale community a dining experience that celebrates King’s contribution and leadership in building a culturally inclusive nation. Open to Yale community.

Conversation: “The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom: Racial Justice Activism in 1957 and Beyond” with William P. Jones, La Tanya S. Autry, and others

Thursday, Jan. 19; 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St.

Historian William P. Jones of the University of Minnesota, author of “The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights,” will discuss the roots and organizing methods of the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom to the March on Washington of 1963. The panelists will also discuss how these historic mass demonstrations inspired the current activist strategies of the Black Lives Matter movement. Free

The Cultural Centers at Yale present: “Voices of Hope & Resistance” Poetry Slam & Open Mic

Thursday, Jan. 19; 7-9 p.m.; Afro-American Cultural Center E-Room, 211 Park St.

Held at the same time as the Busboys & Poets’ Peace Ball, a nonpartisan event in Washington, D.C. that will “celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the past four years and the vow to continue to be the change we want to see in the world,” this open mic will offer a space for anyone to share their poetry and artistic expression as the nation builds intercultural solidarity and resilience together. Free.

Women’s March on Washington

Saturday, Jan. 21; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Independence Avenue and Third Street SW

The day after the Inauguration of Donald Trump, there will be a national Women’s March on Washington D.C. The cultural centers and the Women’s Center at Yale have arranged for two buses, departing campus early in the morning on Jan. 21, and returning late that night.

Hidden Figures: Lecture by Author Margot Lee Shetterly & Film Screening

Saturday, Jan. 21; 4-8:30 p.m.; Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St. (lecture at 4:30 p.m., film screening at 5:45 p.m.)

Author Margot Lee Shetterly will discuss the black women mathematicians whose “human computing” helped changed the course of space exploration. Afterwards, there will be a screening of “Hidden Figures,” the film based on Shetterly’s book. The author will engage in a talk-back with Yale scholars and sign copies of her best-selling book.

Intervening in Bias Incidents: Strategies for Action in the Moment

Sunday, Jan. 22, 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 3-4:30 p.m. (multiple sessions); Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6-7:30 p.m. (multiple sessions); Thursday, Jan. 26, 6-7:30 p.m. (multiple sessions); Tuesday, Jan. 31, 8-9:30 p.m. (multiple sessions) 

Intervening in a bias incident makes a big difference, both for the individuals involved and for the whole community, and yet bystanders sometimes hesitate to act. This new Communication and Consent Educators (CCE) workshop focuses on practical strategies for interrupting bias and harassment, and for supporting those targeted by it. All members of the Yale community are welcome. Sponsored by the Office of Gender and Campus Culture, CCEs, and the Intercultural Affairs Council. For information, visit http://cce.yalecollege.yale.edu/ or contact [email protected].

Black Church at Yale & University Church in Yale Joint Worship Service

Sunday, Jan. 29; 10:30 a.m.-noon; Battell Chapel, 400 College St., corner of Elm Street

This annual Christian worship celebration re-unites Yale’s historically black and historically white student congregations for worship honoring King. Worship features “Breath of Life,” the BCAY praise choir, and the University Church Choir. Free. For more information, visit http://church.yale.edu.

Campus & Community