Martin Luther King III Joins UVA Center for Politics

March 24, 2024 By Bryan McKenzie, Bryan McKenzie,

Martin Luther King III will join the University of Virginia Center for Politics as a professor of practice for a term beginning immediately and continuing through the fall semester, center officials announced today.

King is the second professor of practice in the Center for Politics and joins former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who started in March 2023.

King’s appointment coincides with the anniversary of the March 25, 1963, address his father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., gave at UVA.

“I am delighted to join the Center for Politics as a professor of practice at the University of Virginia, and to do so during the anniversary month when my father addressed UVA 61 years ago makes this appointment all the more meaningful,” King said.

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“Like my parents, I have devoted my career to social justice advocacy and combatting some of the most troubling issues of our time, including poverty, racism and violence,” he said. “I look forward to continuing that work with the Center for Politics.”

During his tenure, King will participate in University-wide lectures, serve as a guest lecturer in student seminars and participate in other University and community events to be announced at a future date.

Center officials said King advances the legacy of his parents as a peacemaker and a negotiator on some of today’s most critical national and international platforms for social change.

They said King has devoted his life to promoting global human rights and social justice, earning a reputation as a respected international statesman and a passionate advocate for the poor and oppressed.

Martin Luther King Jr. poster advertising him speaking at UVA

The announcement of King’s appointment comes 61 years after his father, the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke to 900 University students at Old Cabell Hall. (Contributed photo)

“Professor King brings a wealth of experience in social justice, politics, human rights and much more, and we’re thrilled that he has chosen the Center for Politics,” Larry J. Sabato, the center’s director, said. “I know the students will enjoy getting to know him and learning from his vast experience in the public arena.”

King’s appointment date coincides with the address his father gave to an audience of nearly 900 people in the Old Cabell Hall Auditorium at the invitation of a then-new student organization called the Thomas Jefferson Virginia Council on Human Relations.

Students in the council, mostly African American, were concerned about persecution and discrimination on Grounds in an era when segregation was written into Virginia law. Black students faced several educational hurdles, including exclusion from enrollment in the College of Arts & Sciences. Only one restaurant on the Corner, the University Cafeteria, served Black students.

The students invited the elder King to help their cause. After driving himself from Georgia, King spoke for about an hour against racial segregation at universities and called for increased enrollment of African American students.

The younger King’s first public event as professor of practice will take place April 5 in the same venue where his father spoke. A special concert of the University Chamber Singers, under the direction of professor Michael Slon, is planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UVA Center for Politics.

King will also be a featured speaker during the center’s anniversary weekend, April 6-8. Full details of the center’s 25th anniversary weekend will be released soon.

Media Contact

Bryan McKenzie

Assistant Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications