For the 19th time, Yale will commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by highlighting the work of New Haven community activists toward achieving social justice, culminating in a formal commemoration ceremony this Wednesday.

The celebratory events will conclude at “Think Globally, Act Locally,” a ceremony to feature speakers from New Haven “from the intersection of activism, art, faith and healing,” according to the University website. While every past year’s celebration since the inaugural commemoration in 2000 has featured one nationally renowned speaker for the keynote address, this year’s main event shifts the center of the ceremony to local activists, artists and healers, according to the Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center Risë Nelson.

“The committee hopes that by attending this event, guests will intentionally consider the connection between local and global communities and community advocacy, healing and activism,” Nelson wrote in an email to the News. “[Guests will] be inspired to become more civically engaged in New Haven — in their spheres of influence and within their capacities — to make an impact on our town and our future.”

In addition to the keynote event, several University organizations have arranged for events to celebrate King’s memory. Dwight Hall at Yale held a panel discussing intersectional activism on Sunday. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library opened several exhibitions on Sunday, including “Dr. King and the Long Civil Rights Movement,” a one-day exhibit featuring highlights from the library’s collections related to King and the African-American freedom movement throughout the 20th century.

Over 200 visitors flooded the Beinecke Library to view pieces from the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Culture and other collections, according to Communications Director of Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Michael Morand.

“The African-American freedom struggle, including Dr. King’s extraordinary contributions, is essential for the story of the nation, yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Morand told the News. “The collections at Yale allow students, scholars and the public to engage the past, in the present, for the future.”

The Yale Peabody Museum also opened its doors to the public on Sunday for a two-day celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. The celebratory activities included performances, community open mikes and educational events.

Beyond campus, several New Haven organizations have held events for several decades to commemorate King’s life, such as the Wexler-Gwrant Community School’s annual celebration and the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church’s Love March.

“Despite many achievements, racism, discrimination, poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation still plague our society. In the face of setbacks and grim news, I take heart from the efforts of Yalies — from so many generations — who have labored to create the “beloved community” Dr. King envisioned,” University President Peter Salovey wrote in an email to the Yale community on Monday. “On this day of service and reflection, please join me in looking forward to a day when peace, justice, and freedom are a reality for all people.”

King spoke at Yale in 1959 and 1962 and later received an honorary degree from the University in 1964.

Jever Mariwala |