New-York Historical Society Library Exhibitions

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on view through March 4, 2018

This exhibit was curated by Nina Nazionale, Director of Library Operations and Curator of Printed Collections.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life as a civil rights leader was characterized by tolerance, inclusiveness, and patience. He built coalitions among individuals and groups by focusing on commonalities rather than differences. King first came to national prominence in 1955 as a spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political action that began after the arrest of Rosa Parks, a black woman who refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a city bus. Inspired by the success of the 381-day boycott, King and others formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to a gathering of close to 250,000 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. In late March 1965 he led thousands of marchers from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery to demand voting rights for black citizens. King was working on the Poor People’s Campaign, an initiative that sought economic and human rights for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds, when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. An attempt to continue King’s work on the Poor People’s Campaign soon lost momentum. Just last month, however, Reverend William J. Barber II and Reverend Liz Theoharis announced their revival of the Poor People’s Campaign. The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. lives on.

Rosa Parks, with Ralph Abernathy at left; Gelatin silver print, Stephen Somerstein Collection

Martin Luther King delivers the “I Have A Dream” speech from the podium, August 28, 1963; Bob Adelman Collection

“Selma: Beatings Start the Savage Season”
Life, March 19, 1965

“Selma: Beatings Start the Savage Season”
Life, March 19, 1965; interior

Dear Neighbor, Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign Is Continuing with Even Greater Momentum Since His Death; New York, N.Y.: West Village Poor People’s Campaign, 1968; SY1968.2

Martin Luther King Has Been Murdered : Protest and Memorial= 1 P.M., Friday, April 5 Central Park Mall; New York, N.Y. : 5th Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee, 1968

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