Yale salute to MLK includes Peabody festival, evening with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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)

Yale University will mark the Martin Luther King holiday with a series of events honoring King’s life and legacy beginning on Sunday, Jan. 19, and continuing through the week, 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.

Peabody’s annual MLK program

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave., will hold its “18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice” event on Sunday, Jan. 19 from noon to 4:30 p.m. and on Monday, Jan. 20 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. The storytelling sessions this year will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Museum and will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 114 Whitney Ave. 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, on Monday, Jan. 20. The full schedule of festival events, including registration information is available here

Evening with Gates

There will be a conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr. 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:

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.”

Campus & Community