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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Coretta Scott King to speak at URI's convocation ceremonies

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 9, 2000 -- Civil rights leader and peace crusader Coretta Scott King will join the University of Rhode Island as it kicks off its new academic year and inaugurates its fall honors colloquium series, "Nonviolence: Legacies of the Past, Bridges to the Future," on September 12.

King will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters and speak on how the Kingian legacy can be applied today during URI's Convocation ceremonies in Edwards Auditorium, starting at 3 p.m. The annual event, which is free and open to the public, also features the URI Foundation's presentation of teaching, research, administrative, and staff excellence awards to members of the University's community. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.

In her distinguished career, King has supported democracy movements worldwide and has served as consultant to many world leaders including Corazon Aquino and Nelson Mandela.

As founding president, chair, and chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change for 27 years (1968 to 1995), she has dedicated herself to providing local, national, and international programs that have trained tens of thousands of people in Dr. King's philosophy and methods.

King entered the world stage as wife of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and participant in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Balancing mothering (four children) and movement work, King spoke before church, civic, college, fraternal, and peace groups. With a strong background in music (she earned a degree in voice and violin from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music,) King conceived and performed a series of freedom concerts which combined prose and poetry narrations with musical selections. The concerts functioned as fundraisers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the direct action organization for which Dr. King served as first president.

Prior to her husband's public stand against the Vietnam War in 1967, King served as liaison to peace and justice organizations, and as mediator to public officials on behalf of the unheard.

Since her husband's assassination in 1968, King developed the King Center as a living memorial to her late husband, guided the creation and housing of the largest archives of documents from the Civil Rights Movement, and spearheaded the movement to establish Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday.

She has carried the message of nonviolence to every corner of our nation and globe and has spoken at many of history's largest peace and justice rallies. In 1983, she brought together more than 800 human rights organization to form the Coalition of Conscience, sponsors of the 20 th Anniversary March on Washington, until then the largest demonstration in our nation's capital. In 1985 King and three of her children were arrested at the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. for protesting against apartheid. In 1987, she helped lead a national Mobilization Against Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County, Georgia. In 1988, she re-convened the Coalition of Conscience for the 25 anniversary of the march. In preparation for the Reagan-Gorbachov talks, she also served as head of the U.S. delegation of Women for a Meaningful Summit in Athens, Greece, and Soviet-American Women's Summit in Washington, D.C. In 1995, she turned over leadership of the King Center to her son, Dexter Scott King.

King has received honorary doctorates from more than 40 colleges and universities; has authored three books and a nationally-syndicated column, and has founded or served on dozens of committees including the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation, and the Black Leadership Roundtable.

King's visit is sponsored by URI's Office of the President and The University of Rhode Island Foundation.


For More Information: Art Stein, 874-4059, Lynne Derbyshire, 874-4732, or Jan Sawyer, 874-2116

For a brief weekly summary of URI news by e-mail, call 874-2116 or e-mail at


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