Campus events pay homage to the ‘dream’ of Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree from Yale in 1964.

The Yale campus 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. Events begin this week and continue through early February.

Yale has a long tradition of celebrating King’s legacy. This year’s theme, “Chaos or Community: Fifty Years Later, Where Do We Go from Here?” reflects some of the civil rights leader’s core principles for activism. The commemorative events highlight Yale and New Haven’s spirit of service while also providing an opportunity for education and unity. Events include a keynote address by artist, activist, and community organizer Bree Newsome, special exhibits, a love march, and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s annual weekend program on environmental and social justice. A complete listing of events can be found at the MLK celebration website.

Martin Luther King celebrated his 30th birthday in 1959 at Yale. He is seen here with student host David George Ball ‘60, who had invited King to give an address in Woolsey Hall. Ball is the author of “A Marked Heart,” a memoir that recounts the impact King and his visit had on Ball’s life and work. (Photo courtesy of David George Ball)

King had a full house in Yale’s Woolsey Hall when he spoke there about the future of integration and the civil rights movement on Jan. 14, 1959. He celebrated his 30th birthday the next day on campus. Three years later, he spoke at Battell Chapel on Jan. 14, 1962. Yale presented King with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1964. His 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.”

Where Do We Go from Here?’

Artist and activist Bree Newsome will deliver the annual MLK keynote address. Her talk, titled “Chaos or Community: Fifty Years Later, Where Do We Go from Here?” will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 5:30-7 p.m. in Battell Chapel, 400 College St. (corner of Elm & College streets). The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The location is wheelchair accessible.

Newsome drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and lowered the Confederate battle flag after the murder of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston reignited controversy over South Carolina’s state flag. Her act of defiance against the Confederate flag has been memorialized in photographs and artwork, and has become a symbol of courage, resistance, and the empowerment of women. (A video of Newsome removing the flag can be viewed below.)

Newsome is a co-founder of The Tribe, a grassroots organizing collective created in the aftermath of the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, to address issues of structural racism and police violence confronting the community of Charlotte, North Carolina. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a B.F.A. in film and television, Newsome has received numerous awards for her short films and performance pieces, including the Maryland Distinguished Scholars for Voice, the National Board of Review Student Film Award, and a 2016 NAACP Image Award. She has been named to the Root 100 and Ebony 100 in recognition of her work on behalf of civil rights.

Peabody Museum celebrates King’s quest for environmental and social justice

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History celebrates its 22nd annual “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice” events on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 14 and 15. Sunday’s program runs from noon to 4 p.m.; Monday’s events take place 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 clear air, water, and soil, as well as a right to live in communities where they can raise their families and send their children out to play in healthy and nurturing natural environments.

King strove to raise awareness about public health concerns and urban environmental issues that disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities. Local organizations will be on hand at the Peabody Museum to demonstrate how environmental justice entails equal access to relief and community participation in the decisions of government and industry. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” proclaimed King. Educational activities focusing on this theme will be offered both Sunday and Monday, and include:

Teen Summit, 12:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday in David Friend Hall. Teens will be able to participate in hands-on activities and discussions revolving around King and his efforts to ensure environmental and social justice among all people. Other themes include body image, media portals of race, and police etiquette.

Kouffin Kanecke performing. Photo credit: J. Irizarry.

World Stage performances. Appearing on Sunday in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs will be Red Supreme Productions Hip Hop Dance Entertainment with breakdancing performances at 1 and 2:15 p.m., and Nation Drill Squad Youth Program at 3:15 p.m. Monday’s performers include Cliff Powell at 10:30 a.m., Mooncha at noon, Kouffin Kanecke at 1 p.m., and Tia Russell at 2 p.m.

Community poetry open mic and professional poetry slam on Monday. Featuring the Zannette Lewis Social and Environmental Community Poetry Open Mic from 11 a.m. to noon, and the annual Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Invitational Poetry Slam, featuring professional poets from around the country, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Storytelling at the New Haven Museum on Monday. Located at 114 Whitney Ave., a half block from the Peabody Museum, the New Haven Museum will host the storytelling portion of the Peabody celebration. Admission is free. Inspirational stories by attorney Clifton Graves, Waltrina Kirkland Mullins, and Joy Donaldson will take place 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m., respectively.

Drum Circle: Michael Mills will bring the celebration to a close with a participatory drum circle and drum finale beginning at 3:15 p.m.

Art contest: Middle school and high school students are invited to submit original artwork by Wednesday, Jan. 10, focusing on King and themes of environmental and social justice. The top 20 submissions will be displayed at the Peabody Museum Jan. 14 and 15 during the celebration. Submissions will be judged during the event with cash prizes and t-shirts awarded to the top three submissions. Registration information can be found on the Peabody Museum website.

Martin and Coretta Scott King

Special exhibitions at Yale libraries

Sterling Memorial Library is presenting “The Kings at Yale” in its nave from Jan. 10 through March 2. The exhibit examines the visits to Yale by King in 1959 and 1964 and by his wife, Coretta Scott King, in 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was invited to Yale in 1959 by an undergraduate lecture committee and spoke on “The Future of Integration.” He returned in 1964 to receive an honorary degree, along with Averell Harriman, Philip Jessup, Sargent Shriver Jr., Alfred Lunt, and Lynn Fontanne. King was released on bail from the St. Augustine, Florida jail just two days before receiving the honorary degree from Yale. 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 to a standing-room-only crowd in Woolsey Hall in the importance of campus unrest in addressing social injustices. The materials in this exhibition are reproductions of records from the Office of the President, King Brewster; Office of Public Affairs and Communications; Yale Events and Activities Photographs; Buildings and Grounds Photographs; the Helen Hadley Hall Fellowship Program; and YaleNews. The exhibition can be viewed 8:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m. daily.

On Monday, Jan. 15, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library will feature highlights of its collections related to King and to the African American freedom movements from across the 20th century. The temporary display “Dr. King and the Long Civil Rights Movement” can be viewed noon-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Another exhibition at the Beinecke Library, “+ The Art of Collaboration,” explores the excitement and power of combining separate elements to make something new, beautiful, and lasting. Drawn from the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection of American Children’s Literature, the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, and the Yale Collection of American Literature, “+ The Art of Collaboration” considers exemplary works the archival stories of their making to reveal the creative — and potentially destructive — tensions that are inevitable parts of artistic collaboration. Including plays, children’s books, novels, performance artworks, films, photographs, and more, the works on view demonstrate that collaboration itself is an art form. Writers and artists featured include Russell and Lillian Hoban, Richard Wright and Orson Welles, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Bert Williams and George Walker, C.D. Wright and Deborah Luster, and more. The exhibition is on view daily from Jan. 19 to April 15.


Playing for Peace

Monday, Jan. 15, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Eli Whitney Museum, 916 Whitney Ave., Hamden

During Playing for Peace, participants will build and play with games and toys from parts of the world where play has been disrupted by conflict.

Games that for centuries have followed families from China, Africa, and India, through the Near East, to Europe and America will be explored. Guests can construct mini-magnetic kites from Iran; a Dhulan truck to honor truck art in Pakistan; Alquerque or Nine Men’s Morris that have traveled north and west from Egypt; and will learn a street game still played in Aleppo, Syria — considered the most dangerous city in the world. Guests can also help construct a Carom Board (from Yemen) that will be presented to Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), an organization that helps families escape from conflict around the world. The event is for ages 6-12. The cost is $65 for nonmembers and $60 for members. Extended day is available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for $10/hour.

Ten percent of the class fees will support a girls’ soccer team from Pakistan’s Hunza Valley which is breaking cultural barriers, and another 10% will support the children of IRIS.

Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Conference

Monday, Jan. 15, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Wexler-Grant Community School, 55 Foote St., New Haven

The annual conference, which this year has the theme “The Dream Lives On,” will honor the legacy of King and his dream. The event will feature a variety of workshops, vendors, exhibits, and entertainment for K-12 youth and adults. Health screenings will be offered, and children can be registered with the Child Identification Program. Continental breakfast and a hot lunch will be provided, and winners of the poster and essay contest will be announced. The event is free and open to the public.

Love March

Jan. 15, 10:30 a.m., Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of New Haven, 100 Lawrence St.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Love March was created to conserve the notion of nonviolence. This year’s theme, “Healing a Village,” speaks to “the importance of taking back our streets, neighborhoods, and our youth.” A tradition since 1971, the march is held in remembrance of King on the actual date of his birth. The march will take place rain or shine. All are welcome. For information, call 203-776-8262.

Food justice

Jan. 15, 4 p.m., Pierson College, 261 Park St.

Isa Mujahid and Camelle Scott-Mujahid ’07 will discuss racial justice organizing in Connecticut. Through their organization, CTCORE-Organize Now! they have made food justice work a prominent focal point of their activist network.

Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Dinner

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 5-7 p.m., residential colleges

The meal, hosted in each residential college and featuring world cuisine, is designed to provide students a dining experience that celebrates King’s contribution and leadership in building a culturally inclusive nation. It is open to undergraduate students enrolled in a Yale Dining On Campus Plan.

YAAA book discussion

Friday, Jan. 19, 5-7 p.m., 221 Whitney Ave., conference room 414

In preparation for the annual MLK keynote address on Jan. 24, the Yale African American Affinity Group and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion are co-sponsoring a discussion of the topic “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”

In 1967, King isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movements and rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, where he labored over his final manuscript. In this work, which has been unavailable for more than 10 years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind — for the first time — has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty. Participants can bring their own lunch; dessert and drinks will be provided. The event is open to the public. RSVP is required.

The Rape of Recy Taylor’

Saturday, Jan. 20, 5-7:30 p.m., Whitney Humanities Center auditorium, 53 Wall St.

The screening of the recently released motion picture “The Rape or Recy Taylor,” about the gang rape of a 24-year-old mother and sharecropper in Alabama in 1944 and her courage in identifying the white suspects, will be followed by a discussion with director Nancy Buirski and Yale Professor Crystal Feimster.

Jazz as resistance

Monday, Jan. 22, 9 p.m„ Lilly’s Pad, Toad’s Place, 300 York St.

Guitarist Rohn Lawrence performs with his band each Monday evening at Lilly’s Pad at Toad’s Place. This event will feature jazz music (as resistance). Show is for adults 21 and over. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

What Does Racism Have to Do with White People?’

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 6-7:30 p.m., Afro-American Cultural Center, 211 Park St.

This workshop welcomes everyone, but will focus on white people committed to racial justice. The event will explore deeply ingrained racism and the ways that it is established in laws, policies, and practices in society, translating into power and privilege for white people. The event will also feature discussion of the relationship between oppression and power and strategies for challenging racism, individually and in our communities and institutions. It is free and open to the public.

Protecting Five Million: Immigrant-origin Children in a Time of Crisis’

Thursday, Jan. 25, 4-5:30 p.m., Davenport College common room, 248 York St.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, the Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, will speak on the experiences of children of undocumented immigrants and their efforts towards resiliency. Yoshikawa is the author of “Immigrants Raising Citizens: Undocumented Parents and Their Young Children” (2011) and the co-director of NYU’s Global TIES for Children Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Documentary film viewing: ‘The Hill’

Thursday, Jan. 25, 7-9 p.m., Bradley Street Bike Co-op, 138 Bradley St., New Haven

This documentary chronicles the efforts of a group of neighbors in the Upper Hill neighborhood to fight the City of New Haven’s plan to build a new school near Yale-New Haven Hospital, in the process taking ownership of the neighborhood via eminent domain. Together with a group of community leaders and a civil rights lawyer, the neighbors contest the city’s claim and take the case to federal court.

Documentary film viewing: ‘TELL THEM WE ARE RISING’

Thursday, Jan. 27, 7-9 p.m., Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High St.

The Yale Film Study Center, CPTV, and the Yale African American Affinity Group will host a special screening of “Tell Them We Are Rising,” a new documentary by Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams that explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played over the course of 150 years in American history, culture, and identity.

Joint worship service

Sunday, Jan. 28, 10-11:30 a.m.; Afro-American Cultural Center, 211 Park St.

The Black Church at Yale and the University Church in Yale will hold a joint worship service. This annual worship celebration reunites Yale’s historic congregations in honoring King. The service features Breath of Life, the praise choir of the Black Church at Yale, and the University Church Choir. Free and open to the public.

Self-care Expo

Sunday, Jan. 28 4-7 p.m.; Afro-American Cultural Center

As a conclusion to the New Haven Liberation Week, there will be an afternoon of healing and self-care. A group of healers from across the New Haven community will be volunteering their skills to help participants reconnect with themselves, discover new self-care habits, and sit in community after a week of work. The afternoon will be followed by kick-back with music and more. Free and open to the public.

Intervening in bias incidents

Monday, Jan. 29, 6-7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6-7:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 2, 3-4:30 p.m.. Location will be provided upon registration.

Hosted by student and professional staff of the Yale College Dean’s Office, this workshop  on “Intervening in Bias Incidents: Strategies for Action in the Moment” focuses on practical strategies for interrupting bias and harassment, and for supporting those targeted by it. All members of the Yale community are welcome, but preregistration is required.

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