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MLK @ U.Va.


Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at Old Cabell Hall in 1963.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at Old Cabell Hall
March, 1963

In the early 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, Aaron Henry, Bayard Rustin, and others spoke at the University under the sponsorship of the Virginia Council on Human Relations. The organization brought to Grounds speakers who opposed the state's prevailing policy of racial segregation.

Student Wesley Harris (now a professor at MIT) was chair of the committee when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to speak at Old Cabell Hall to 900 people, in 1963.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech at Old Cabell Hall in 1963 met with no resistance of any kind among the student body or administration. He called for a doubling of black registrations at universities in the American South.

See the Cavalier Daily's coverage of Dr. King's visit here, on March 21, 1963 and March 27, 1963. (source: The Cavalier daily, Newspaper Virginia Charlottesville Special Collections, University of Virginia Library).


Professor Emeritus Paul Gaston writes about his time with Dr. King at the University in this article.

This April 3, 2008 issue of The HooK also explores King's visit to the University.

protest on Lawn

Five years later in 1968, when King was shot, the Rotunda flag was flown at half-mast and then-President of the University Edgar Shannon, Jr. led a U.Va. memorial service in Cabell Hall. All classes at U.Va. were made optional during the service.

At left, students march on the Lawn to protest racial inequality, 1969. (photo courtesy of "One Hundred Years of Life on the Lawn").

Alumni and students reflect on the University's progress since desegragation in this article published in UVa Today.