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History of King Hall

The UC Davis School of Law is named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an international leader in the pursuit of civil rights, equality, and education, whose personal integrity and insistence on non-violence made his life an inspiration to all who seek to promote social justice by lawful and orderly means. Dr. King represents many of the values the Law School seeks to instill in its students, and the designation of the Law School building as King Hall serves as a tribute to his legacy.

Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, as the UC Davis School of Law was finishing its second year of instruction. His death had an immediate and profound impact on Law School students and faculty, who were actively involved in the legal, political, and social debates of the time. They urged campus administrators to name the building after Dr. King as a way of honoring the slain civil right leader and dedicating the Law School to King's ideals of public service and social justice. The building was officially dedicated after Dr. King on April 12, 1969 in a ceremony including a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. "Even in the naming of the building, one can sense the high purpose to which its facilities are to be dedicated," said Warren.

During the 1980s, a committee of students and alumni commissioned a sculpture of Dr. King from artist Lisa Reinertson, which was prominently placed in the Law School foyer in 1987. The terra cotta sculpture, a life-size depiction of Dr. King in a robe carved with scenes from his life and associated figures and events from the civil rights movement, now graces the lobby of the newly expanded and renovated King Hall next to a digital exhibit dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. King.