A King Visits L.A.



This digital exhibition highlights Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s engagement with civil rights organizing and social change in Los Angeles, from 1956 -1963. The historical photographs provide visual images of the dedicated activists who contributed leadership, organizing skills and financial resources to the Los Angeles based movement to end discrimination and segregation in the United States. The exhibition also demonstrates the linkages between the Southeastern and Southwestern Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Los Angeles frequently. Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of Civil Rights leader Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, tells us that in June 1956, her parents vacationed and attended conferences with her Uncle Martin and Aunt Coretta in Los Angeles[1]. Three weeks after his last visit to Southern California a sniper assassinated Dr. King in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1968.

Our hope is that these images will demonstrate that Dr. King’s advocacy of justice and equality was welcomed in Los Angeles, as he participated in the civic, political and social life of the city.  By creating this digital exhibition we also hope to expand our public discussion of Los Angeles-based activists and organizations involved in the national movement and their contribution to policy change.

--Dr. Karin Stanford, Curator
Professor of Political Science, Africana Studies Department
California State University, Northridge
Updating the archival collection is an ongoing process. In the comment section , please share with us your knowledge about the images and events featured.

Special acknowledgment to:
Patricia Houston-Mills, student at California State University, Northridge
Keith Rice, Historian and Archivist, Tom & Ethel Bradley Center
Lucy Hernandez, Archivist, Tom & Ethel Bradley Center

Photographs are from the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center, California State University, Northridge.

Sponsors:  Center for Southern California Studies, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, California State University, Northridge.
[1] Abernathy, Donzaleigh. Partners to History: Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Crown, 2003.


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