Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.'s visits to Brandeis

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, BrandeisNOW takes a trip through history and spotlights the iconic figure's multiple visits to campus.

Photos/Courtesy of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University

Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Brandeis University.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 50 years ago Wednesday, April 4, made significant visits to Boston and to Brandeis – he came to the then-new university three times over the course of his career fighting for civil rights.

He first spoke on April 3, 1957 as part of the Helmsley Lecture series, a six-part series addressing the topic of race relations. At the time he was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that lead the Montgomery bus boycott from 1955 to 1956. Earlier that year, he had been elected president of the newly-founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference. At the young age of 28, he had already been identified among the most admired religious leaders in the world by a recent Gallup Poll.

His 1957 talk was entitled “Justice without Violence,” and addressed the segregation crisis in the south and his theory and practice of non-violent resistance. He had previously spoken on Nov. 12, 1956 at the Ford Hall Forum. He returned to Brandeis for the last time on Feb. 25, 1963, shortly before his historic March on Washington.

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