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Honoring Martin Luther King

April 3, 2018
Martin Luther King memorial at duskThe Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of King's assassination, and the University of Rochester will join with other colleges, universities, and places of worship across the nation in paying tribute by ringing bells at 6:05 p.m. central time. (Getty Images photo)

Ring the bells

Wednesday, April 4, 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and the University will join other colleges, universities, and places of worship across the nation in paying tribute.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, built around the hotel where King was shot, is asking that bells toll 39 times to honor the number of years King lived and pay homage to his legacy. The first bells will ring at the museum at 6:01 p.m. Central time (7:01 Eastern time) to symbolize when the news first rippled across the world. Bells will toll across the nation starting at 6:05 p.m. Central time (7:05 Eastern), including at the University’s Hopeman Memorial Carillon.

The ring will be streamed on Facebook Live.

Fifty years ago this week, students at the University of Rochester reacted to the news of King’s assassination with emotion, but also a determination to continue his push for racial equality.

Students led a march from the Eastman Quadrangle into the city of Rochester to attend a memorial service for King at the Civic Center plaza, and, just two days following King’s death, Rochester students announced the formation of the Black Students’ Union, making this the 50th anniversary year of the organization.

That same week in 1968, Paul Burgett  ’68E, ’72E (MA), ‘76E (PhD)–then a senior at the Eastman School of Music–delivered a 12-minute speech commemorating King’s fight for social justice.

LISTEN: Convocation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Burgett, then a senior at the Eastman School of Music, delivers a speech in Kilbourn Hall on April 11, 1968, the week of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

“This cause is branded with the misnomer of the Negro problem,” Burgett said. “It is branded with the name of the white problem, it is branded with all sorts of names, trying to find and attach a label to what amounts to, basically and without question, a human problem.”

Burgett remains at the University half a century later, serving as a vice president and senior advisor to the president.

Students then and now


In this 50th anniversary year, students are reflecting on the impact Martin Luther King has had on their lives. Their thoughts on King’s legacy  also touch on some of the issues he grappled with in his own lifetime—specifically how skin color, identity, and culture are intertwined with race in ways that often create challenge and misunderstanding.

The Office of Minority Student Affairs invites students to visit their offices in Dewey Hall between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to share their reflections on the impact King has had in their lives and in the world. This event is cosponsored by Douglass Leadership House and the Black Students’ Union.

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Category: Society & Culture

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