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2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Observance

Keeping the Dream Alive:
Resistance, Activism, and Getting into Good Trouble

About Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King
Dr. Martin Luther King (1929–1968)

Dr. Martin Luther King, a Baptist minister, scholar, and civil rights activist, was an iconic and impactful leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he non-violently fought for racial and economic equality and justice until his assassination in 1968.

King and others were the organizers of high-profile American events such as the Montgomery bus boycott, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. These events and others resulted in the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Connecticut, and later, the University of Hartford played roles in King’s fight for equality and justice. When he was 15 years old, he came to Simsbury, Conn. to pick tobacco and, for the first time, experienced life without segregation. In his autobiography, he wrote: “After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation. It was hard to understand…”

In 1959, after the Montgomery bus boycott ended and, during nonviolent protests against segregation organized by King and others in southern states, the University of Hartford invited him to deliver its Alexander S. Keller Memorial Fund Lecture at Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford. King’s speech “The Future of Integration,” was not without controversy as he urged attendees to not turn a blind eye to the treatment of their fellow Americans.

More on Dr. King

As heard on a recording of the 1959 speech, King tells the Hartford audience, “…What we need (is) a committed liberalism - one where individuals stand up on basic principles and give themselves to the right side of this issue realizing that right is right and wrong is wrong and never the twain shall meet. This is something we must do."

Many renowned civil rights events followed King’s speech in Hartford including non-violent lunch counter sit-ins, school desegregation cases, freedom riders who took bus trips to the south to protest segregated restrooms and lunch counters, the March on Washington, and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. In July 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law with King in attendance.

King’s speech and all Keller Lectures letters, memos, programs, press releases, newspaper clippings, transcripts, and recordings, including Q&A sessions, are digitized and available for researcher use in the University’s Harrison Libraries.

Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, who devoted her life to furthering her husband’s goals, also came to UHart to deliver a guest lecture in 1978.

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.

Dr. Martin Luther King,

Remembering Past Events

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