Considering The MLK Moment at UWI

The UWI Museum is happy to partner with the Social History Project of the UWI Department of History & Archaeology to launch an occasional focus on UWI & the 1960s with a panel on UWI’s MLK Moment – Rev Dr Martin Luther King’s sermon at the University of the West Indies Mona, Jamaica campus 50 years ago, on June 20, 1965. He also spoke at a civic ceremony in Kingston before being joined by Rev Ralph Abernathy among others for a few days of rest and strategising on Jamaica’s north coast. On arrival in Jamaica Rev Abernathy told the Gleaner newspaper that he and his wife had “come to be with our close friends Dr and Mrs King and to do a little planning towards the total destruction of segregationism.” (Gleaner June 23, 1965)

The panel presentation will take place in the museum at 3pm on Friday November 6, with a range of perspectives being offered by Social History Project Director Prof. Matthew Smith, along with UWI Emeritus Professors Patrick Bryan and Rupert Lewis. Museum Curator Dr Suzanne Francis-Brown will moderate the subsequent Q&A/discussion session. The Museum will also offer participants a small ‘pop-up exhibition’ on the King visit, which includes an audio recording of the sermon he preached on June 20.




  1. This material is powerful from several points of view. We have had and continue to have very close relationships with our neighbours in the Caribbean and in North America. Surprisingly we have tended to shun our brothers and sisters In Central and South America and surprisingly in Africa as well.
    Had it been possible for the descendants of former slaves to opt for Africa in a manner not dissimilar to return home among indentured Asians from colonial India, China and Africa the present situation might well have been different from that which now exists.
    The bond with he USA has been strong though riddled with contradictions. As with other Caribbean territories indices of similarity and difference abound when looking at the USA-Jamaican link. We could quite easily have been part of the USA if diplomatic efforts had taken us that way. From many view-points the African American and African Caribbean populations remain imprisoned by our similar experience in slavery and the heritage of a colour caste system which always puts us side by side with European populations where-ever they reside. The main consequence of this set of problems is readily apparent- we are obsessed with ideas of equality with some whilst asserting that we have gone clear of any meaningful contact with others.
    The series of events in the period surrounding Jamaican Independence are of critical importance and should shape the nature of our deliberations concerning the limits and advantages of the links we have established over the period since emancipation. Surely these debates should be incorporated in the educational material available to us all.


    • Thanks for this perspective. The UWI has been important in many occurrences and developments relating to the region and hence there is much to be researched, discussed and shared.


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