Collection Facts

Extent: 
16 items
Dates of Original: 
1963
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

On Sunday, June 16th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed Keuka College graduates in a Baccalaureate speech based on his famous sermon entitled “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” This came amid a tumultuous period in the Civil Rights movement. The Birmingham marches against segregation had begun just two months earlier, resulting in King’s arrest on April 12 (Good Friday). It was during this confinement that he wrote his enduring declaration, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Following his address, King was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from then-College President Dr. William S. Litterick. A little more than two months after his Keuka College address, King would lead the March on Washington, at which he galvanized the nation and the Civil Rights movement with his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Scope of Collection

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection consists of photographs, letters, documents, and a recording of the speech he gave at the Keuka College Baccalaureate Ceremony in 1963. The letters are primarily between president William Litterick, Dr. King, and other special guests attending Commencement proceedings that year. Documents contain biographical information about speakers and guests and planning information needed to coordinate commencement events.