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UHart's Annual Keeping the Dream Alive Observance of Dr. Martin Luther King on Jan. 31

January 11, 2024
Submitted By: Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement
photo of MLK delivering his famous "I Have a Dream" speech
King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.

UHart’s Annual Keeping the Dream Alive Observance of Dr. Martin Luther King will be held on Wednesday, January 31.

Love: Hatred is Too Heavy a Burden to Bear

The University of Hartford commemorates the extraordinary life and achievements of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was born January 15, 1929, and was killed, at the age of 39, by the hands of a ruthless assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968, filled with hate and racism. A champion and proponent of nonviolence and civil disobedience, racial equality, social justice, and love, King became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968. 

From the 1955–56 mobilization of the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King raised a new national consciousness about civil rights, social justice, and economic equality. The University of Hartford helped raise that consciousness when, in 1959, Dr. King delivered UHart’s Alexander S. Keller Memorial Fund Lecture at Bushnell Memorial Hall. His speech, “The Future of Integration,” was rousing and eye-opening for many. The Keller Lectures letters, memos, programs, press releases, newspaper clippings, transcripts, and recordings including Q&A sessions are newly digitized and available for researcher use in the University of Hartford’s Harrison Libraries.

The actions of Dr. King and countless others who joined the quest for racial equality were instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which prohibits discrimination by race, color, religion, sex, or national origin—and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—which outlawed requirements to register vote such as literacy tests and poll taxes because these requirements primarily discriminated against would-be African American voters. Dr. King advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to fight racial segregation, and even though the peaceful protests he led were often met with violence, he persisted. In 1964, at the age of 35, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance.

Closer to home, a young Martin Luther King came to Simsbury, Conn., when he was 15 years old to pick tobacco and earn money to attend Morehouse College. He had to sit in the “colored” train cars until reaching Washington, D.C., where he was able to change and sit in any car. On this trip, for the first time, he experienced life without segregation. In letters to his mother in Georgia, he marveled at being able to go to any church, sing in the choir, go to movies, visit ice cream stores, and sleep in rooms with white youth. In his autobiography, he wrote: “After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation. It was hard to understand…” A memorial to Dr. King is located in Simsbury and the tobacco farm land where he worked is protected space.

Dr. King came to Simsbury a second summer, went on to finish college, follow in his father’s footsteps as a Southern Baptist minister, and become one of the most influential people in United States history. As a political activist and charismatic leader, Dr. King became the face of and the impetus behind the U.S. civil rights movement through non-violent sit-ins, marches, and voter registration drives.

In honor of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, the University of Hartford will  host its annual observance program on Wednesday, January 31, from 12:45 to 2 p.m. at Lincoln Theater. This year’s observance theme is “Love: Hate is too great a burden to bear, a quote from Dr. Kings 1967 speech titled Where Do We Go from Here? The message conveyed by Dr. King is about the power of love and the detrimental effects of hate. It conveys the personal decision to embrace love as a guiding principle, placing strong emphasis that hatred weighs heavily on the individual and society, while love brings lightness and freedom. There is a cost to pay for hate. It will burden you and those around you. The 2024 observance program will include student performances, a special keynote address from the Honorable Richard A. Robinson, the first African American Chief of the Connecticut Supreme Court, and the presentation of the 2024 MLK Beloved Community Awards.

As we pause to reflect, let us remain focused on Dr. King’s lessons on civil rights and love. Today and every day, by choosing to stick with love, individually, we are contributing to the collective effort to promote peace and justice.

Our Keynote Speaker

The Honorable Richard A. Robinson, the first African American Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Read about Justice Robinson.

Resources

The following resources lay the foundation for learning about the work of Dr. King and what he stood for as we celebrate and elevate his activism.

Continue The Dream of Social Justice for All

Let’s respond to the challenge of food insecurity by donating to  UHart’s The Nosh on campus. Donations of food can be dropped off at the Office of Student Engagement and Inclusion in GSU 207. To access food and other items at The Nosh, visit GSU 341 during GSU operating hours of Monday–Thursday, 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. The Nosh is an approved Connecticut Foodshare Pantry.

The Career Ready Closet is the Barney School's newest Career Ready initiative! There is a closet in the Academic Services office (A227) on the main floor in Auerbach Hall where students can come in and either rent for free or buy professional attire. These clothes are donated; students can either rent them for a two-week period (for an interview or event where business casual or professional attire is needed) or can opt to buy the item for a significantly discounted price. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information, visit hartford.edu/career-closet.