Library Helps You Get to Know Dr. King

a pair of hands putting a black and white photograph in an envelopeA new online resource from the University Library System serves as an entry point into learning about Martin Luther King Jr. The collection, Social Justice Topics @ Pitt: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Resources Guide, was created to celebrate the life and legacy of the civil rights activist. The information and resources are offered as entry points for further documentation and bibliography. It includes:

  • Books and articles on MLK's life, legacy and important civil rights events. This includes the library’s new database, African American Communities
  • Information on MLK Day events happening at Pitt and around the city of Pittsburgh. 
  • Primary resources on MLK and the civil rights movement here in Pittsburgh. 
  • Links to resources for related topics, including anti-racism, criminal justice and law enforcement, environmental justice, gender equality and feminism, LGBTQI+ rights, poverty relief and more. 

This resource can be found among the library’s collection of nearly 800 Course and Subject Guides covering more than 60 topics such as Africana studies, bioethics, economics, history, music and reference and research skills. It was created by librarians Megan Massanelli of Archives & Special Collections, Tyrica Terry Kapral of Digital Scholarship Services and LaMonica Wiggins of Research and Educational Support. 

“Through his own words and the work of others, users can understand the context of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US and find ways to celebrate this day of service through local physical and virtual events and volunteer opportunities,” Massanelli said. “It is also a resource to aid viewers in learning more about the history of and concepts of social justice that underscored King’s work and have evolved since.”

Wiggins said highlights of the guide include the High Museum of Art’s online photo exhibit, which she called “one of the most significant collections of photographs of the civil rights movement.” The exhibit includes more than 300 photographs that document the social protest movement, from Rosa Parks’ arrest to the Freedom Rides to the tumultuous demonstrations of the late 1960s.

Kapral added that this resource takes on particular significance this year.

“Our nation is in the thick of political strife as the racial injustice of the past several hundred years is reaching a climax, much like that of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s era. There is a great sense of urgency in educating oneself and others of the history of oppression that has long been suppressed by our dominant national narratives and figuring out how to remediate these erasures, inequity and interracial alienation. Activism starts with awareness, and that’s what this guide is all about.”

This resource is among a growing number of guides that the library is creating to promote awareness of social justice issues and enable teaching and learning surrounding these issues—all part of a larger University effort to advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and interracial solidarity. For more information, see the Library System’s Statement of Commitment to Equity and Justice

What do you know about MLK?

While the University Library System’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Resources are available year-round, now is an opportunity to learn more about the civil rights activist. The site features a Brittanica Quiz with these questions and others:

  • How old was King when he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta?
  • What boycott of a segregated service did King help lead as part of the Montgomery Improvement Association?
  • Who did King write his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” to?
  • About how many people gathered in 1963 for the March on Washington?
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