Springfield College welcomed Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King, as the keynote speaker at the sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in the Appleton Auditorium in the Fuller Arts Center. The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture honors the history of inclusion and diversity at Springfield College and is presented by the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement.
King discussed his latest book, Beneath a Ruthless Sun, which focuses on injustices in the state of Florida at the start of the Civil Rights movement. The book tells the story of a courageous female journalist, Mabel Norris Reese, who put her life in jeopardy for decades by reporting on the forces of white supremacy in Florida.
In 2013, King’s book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. He has also written about race, civil rights, and the death penalty for New York Times, Washington Post, and The Atlantic.
Springfield College started the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture in 2014 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s commencement speech and honorary degree presentation at Springfield College. King visited Springfield College on June 14, 1964, just 10 months after the “I Have a Dream” speech and six months before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Also as part of the evening, the campus community recognized the inaugural recipients of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards. The recipients this year were faculty member Laurel Davis-Delano, student Kathleen Morris, and Springfield community member Mr. Robert “Cee” Jackson. Jackson is the Chief Executive Officer of Jackson Security Company, which he started in 1968 as the first black owned security company in Massachusetts. Jackson has been an active member of the Springfield community serving as a member of the Springfield Police Review Commission, serving on the board of directors for Redevelop Springfield, and he is a member and past president of the board for Springfield Partners for Community Action, and a member and past president of the Brethren Community Foundation.
Springfield College is a private, coeducational institution founded in 1885. Nearly 5,000 students, including 2,500 full-time undergraduate students, study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its regional campuses across the country. Springfield College inspires students through the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy – educating in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.