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Martin Luther King, Jr. Exhibit Now Open; Holiday Commission Records Finding Aid Available Online Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Posted by aramsey in Archives, history.
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Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Exhibit opened this month in Memorial Hall at the State Library’s Museum of Connecticut History, 231 Capitol Avenue in Hartford.  The exhibit documents King’s and Governor Dempsey’s communications concerning the civil rights movement, Connecticut’s response to King’s death, and the creation and work of the Connecticut Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission.  Included in the exhibit are remarks, telegrams, programs, photographs, proclamations, posters, lists, and brochures.

A State Archives intern recently completed an online finding aid for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission records (RG 154:003).

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 29, 1929 to Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in February 1948.  On June 18, 1953 Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott were married.  In 1957 he helped co-found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  King was a pivotal leader in the non-violent civil rights movement from 1955 to his death in 1968.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray as he walked on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

United States Representative John Conyers introduced legislation four days after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death for a national holiday.  President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into law on November 2, 1983.  The first national celebration occurred on January 20, 1986.  Governor William A. O’Neil issued Executive Order Number 15 on January 10, 1986 creating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities as its secretariat.

The Connecticut General Assembly in 1989 passed Public Act 89-258, “An Act Creating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission,” to ensure the “commemoration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the state is meaningful and reflective of the spirit with which he lived and the struggles for which he died.”  The commission, which is still active today, is composed of nineteen appointed commissioners, who work to plan an annual celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sponsor a youth conference and provide reports on activities in the state.

The exhibit may be viewed Monday through Friday 9:00 to 4:00; and Saturday 9:00 to 2:00 through mid-April.  All exhibits are free and open to the public.

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