Martin Luther King III to headline Yale’s MLK Day celebration

King, an activist and son of the iconic civil rights leader, will deliver the keynote address during Yale’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 18.
Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III, a global human rights activist and the elder son of the iconic civil rights leader, will deliver the keynote address during Yale’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 18.

All members of the Yale and Greater New Haven communities are invited to attend the event, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall (500 College Street). The event is free but advance registration is required. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. The talk will also be broadcast live on Yale's YouTube channel.

King has devoted his career to working for nonprofit organizations that promote nonviolent social change and to carrying on the civil rights legacy of his parents, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. He is founder and president of Realizing the Dream, a nonprofit organization that continues their work on a global level, including through nonviolence training in Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Israel, Palestine, Kenya, Sri Lanka, as well as in the United States.

King is also a former president and CEO of the King Institute, where he remains on the board; a board member for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Georgia-based civil rights organization co-founded by his father; the Drum Major Institute, a New York-based think tank; and the Metropolitan West Management Asset Corporation.

In his address, titled “Sanctuary in the Storm: Healing Action,” King will address the continued need to fight for civil rights in the U.S. and across the world, what is needed to sustain a commitment to a more just society, and the importance of protecting the advocates who devote their lives to this work.

Afterward, King will join a conversation with James Forman, Jr., the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, who teaches criminal law and Yale’s “Access to Law School” program, which serves as a pipeline for first-generation and underrepresented minority students from New Haven who wish to pursue a legal career. Forman is also the faculty director of Yale’s Center for Law and Racial Justice. His first book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

The university’s MLK 2023 Commemoration Planning Committee is thrilled to host Martin Luther King III as Yale’s first in-person speaker for the annual commemoration in three years, said Risë Nelson, the committee chair and director of diversity, equity, inclusion & accessibility at the Yale University Library & Collections.

We wanted to create an event through which our attendees could come together in community — physical and virtual — to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to heed this call to action to recommit to ‘healing in action’ on all levels — personally, locally, institutionally, nationally, and globally — so that we may co-create together that ‘beloved community’ of which Rev. Dr. King dreamed,” Nelson said.

Martin Luther King III comes to Yale almost 64 years to the day of his father’s visit to the Yale campus for a speech on the future of integration, delivered Jan. 14, 1959, which came at the invitation of the Undergraduate Lecture Committee. The late civil rights icon returned to Yale in 1964 to receive an honorary degree in a ceremony also held at Woolsey Hall.

The Jan. 18 event is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary & Vice President for University Life and Belonging at Yale, a university initiative that is coordinating efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion and create a sense of belonging on campus; the Yale College Dean’s Office; and Yale University Library. View the full list of sponsors.

Visit to learn more about the commemoration. Learn about other events being held across campus to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Note: Masks are required upon entry into Woolsey Hall for Mr. King’s keynote address. Bags that are 12-inches-by-12-inches in size or larger will not be permitted. All other bags are subject to search.


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