This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Dr. King at Yale

Martin Luther King's appearance at Yale's commencement in 1964 to receive an honorary degree was notable for many reasons, but he was, as far as we know, the only honoree ever to come to commencement directly from a jail cell. Our "Old Yale" columnist Judith Ann Schiff recounted the events in our January/February 2004 issue:


In June 1964, when the news came out that Martin Luther King Jr. had been bailed out of jail to receive an honorary degree at Yale, the Minneapolis Tribune editorialized on “Yale’s Good Example.” The Hartford Courant declared that “it was a good day for the Rev. Martin Luther King. It was an even better day for Yale.” But the Danville (Virginia) Registerwarned of grim consequences “when Yale upholds a petty criminal,” and the Charleston News and Courier labeled King the “Doctor of Terror.”

Alumni opinion was also divided. Kingman Brewster, who was navigating his first commencement as Yale’s president, had two form letters for his response. One was a brief paragraph of thanks: “As you may imagine, there are many of our brethren who are outraged by this act, so your time and trouble to let us know of your approval is much appreciated.”

Read the rest in our archives.


Filed under Martin Luther King
The comment period has expired.