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On Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jan 19, 2015

Dear King Hall Community,

As we celebrate our federal holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the King Hall community can take pride in remembering the deep ties between UC Davis School of Law, Dr. King, and his mission.

History of King Hall

The connection extends to the School of Law’s earliest years.  After Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968, a group of students, faculty, and staff petitioned UC Davis administrators to name the new law building after him as a way of honoring his memory and dedicating the School of Law to King’s ideals of social justice and public service. On April 12, 1969, the building was officially christened King Hall in a ceremony presided over by Hon. Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, who said, "Even in the naming of the building, one can sense the high purpose to which its facilities are to be dedicated."

In 1981, Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, visited UC Davis to deliver the Law School’s commencement address, and his son Martin Luther King III visited King Hall in 1986. The following year, a sculpture of Dr. King by artist Lisa Reinertson was placed in the King Hall lobby, thanks to the efforts of students and alumni. The statute still graces the entrance to King Hall, alongside a touch-screen video exhibit devoted to Dr. King, and several famous quotations from the civil rights icon are prominently displayed on the walls upstairs.

Most importantly, UC Davis School of Law has always retained a dedication to the ideals of social justice, equality, and public service espoused by Dr. King.  We can all take pride in the work of our faculty, which so often directly addresses the most compelling social issues of our time, the efforts of our students, who each year contribute thousands of hours to providing access to justice to those in need via our King Hall clinics, and our alumni, so many of whom work in public service or devote a portion of their practice to helping those in need.  Because of all that you do, King Hall is making a difference in our community, our state, and our world.

I hope you will enjoy your Martin Luther King Day holiday, and I look forward to working together to help realize Dr. King’s dream in the years to come.

Kevin R. Johnson