Yale University Library News

Library commemorates MLK day with "Kings at Yale" online exhibit

Dr. King in regalia with President Bewster
January 11, 2021

In response to COVID-19, Sterling Library’s annual exhibition commemorating visits to Yale by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1959 and 1964) and Coretta Scott King (1969) has been recreated as an online exhibit, open to all. View “The Kings at Yale” online.

The civil rights leader was invited to Yale in 1959 by an undergraduate lecture committee and spoke on “The Future of Integration.” He returned to Yale in 1964 to receive an honorary degree, just two days after being released on bail from the St. Augustine, Fla., jail. He had been arrested for ordering food in a whites-only motel. The online exhibit documents the award ceremony and reactions—both positive and negative—from across the country.

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 on the importance of campus unrest in addressing social injustices.

The historical materials in the exhibit are drawn from Yale Library’s Manuscripts and Archives department. They include reproductions of records from the Office of the President, Kingman Brewster (RU 11); Office of Public Affairs and Communications, Yale Events and Activities Photographs (RU 690); Buildings and Grounds Photographs (RU 703), the Helen Hadley Hall Fellowship Program (RU 9), and Yale News.

In past years, the “Kings at Yale” exhibit was presented on banners in the Sterling nave; it has been moved to an online format because access to Sterling Library is restricted under current COVID-19 guidelines and the nave is currently being used for the library’s contactless pickup service.