DC Public Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary of 1968

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DC Public Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary of 1968

Online Exhibit Highlights Dr. King's Local and National Ties to the District

1968 was a momentous year in US history. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. The Poor People's Campaign, which Dr. King was organizing at the time of his death, brought activists from across the nation to the District. 

Locally, 1968 brought the groundbreaking of what would become the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the founding of the Duke Ellington School for the Arts and the opening of Federal City College, now part of the University of the District of Columbia.

This year, the Library is hosting a series of programs and events to highlight the experiences that shaped 1968 locally and nationally titled, "The People's University." This month, the celebration starts with an online exhibit, "Evolutions and Legacies: Martin Luther King Jr. and D.C., 1957-1972."

"Dr. King's activism in the District wasn't limited to national causes," says Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. "Just like he supported voting rights nationally, Dr. King advocated for the voting rights of District residents who were, and continue to be, uniquely disenfranchised. As a keeper of the city's stories, the Library is committed to showcasing Dr. King's advocacy in a way that is uniquely local."

Washingtonians have consistently claimed King as a native son. In addition to visiting the District often to champion Civil Rights for African-Americans, Dr. King was a strong advocate for the city's Home Rule efforts. Curated by Derek Gray, special collections archivist, and Dr. Marya Annette McQuirter, curator of the dc1968 project, "Evolutions and Legacies" explores how more Washingtonians embraced Dr. King as awareness of his work expanded from segregation and white supremacy protests in the south to include his critiques of poverty, capitalism and the Vietnam War. This exhibit traces Dr. King's unique experiences and relationships in the District using images from the Library's Special Collections and widens conversations about his legacy in the early 21st century.

The exhibit can be viewed by clicking here.  The 2018 People's University program is supported by the DC Public Library Foundation. For updates on the Library's programs, click here and follow #PeoplesUniversity on social media.