MLK’s Enduring Legacy

BU Today

Click on the boxes above to read and to hear the reflections of members of the BU community about the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59).

TEXT BY BU TODAY STAFF | PHOTOS BY JANICE CHECCHIO VIDEOS BY ALAN WONGOn the night of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) was gunned down on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tenn.The most prominent voice in the US Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, King was a strong and influential advocate of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the struggle for equal rights for black Americans. For this work, the Baptist minister earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. When he was assassinated, King was in Memphis to support African American sanitation workers, who were striking to protest unequal wages and working conditions.

His assassin, James Earl Ray, at first escaped, but was captured at London’s Heathrow Airport in June 1968. Sentenced to a 99-year jail term, he died in prison in 1998.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of MLK’s death last spring, BU Today reached out to BU faculty, staff, and students, asking them to reflect on King’s legacy. Read their essays and view their videos below or by clicking on the boxes above.

Crystal Williams

Associate provost for diversity and inclusion

Throughout my life, Dr. King’s legacy has existed in a state of perpetual metamorphosis, a slow aggregation of meaning that has seemed at turns unfathomable and utterly dependent on my angle of vision. I was born two years after his assassination. In this way and for me, King has always been a symbol and his legacy, especially when I was very small, deeply symbolic. As a girl, I thought the man himself was our inheritance, a symbol of love, compassion, and courage, which was, of course, the story we …

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