On Martin Luther King Day we look back to spring 2011, the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Initiated by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961, the rides greatly extended the strategy of non-violent direct action used by CORE since its origins in 1947 and by college students when they sat-in at a Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. in February 1961.
The Reverend Martin Luther King emerged as a prominent leader of non-violent struggles against racial discrimination in the following months and years, and went on to be recognized as a national hero. While preparing to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in 2008, students and teachers of P.S. 199 were genuinely surprised when a first grader revealed that her next-door neighbor on West End Avenue in New York City had been an associate of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Once the teacher realized that the student's connection with an associate of Dr. King was not just a figment of her imagination, the neighbor—Marvin Rich—was invited to share his memories at the PS 199 Library's 2nd annual Martin Luther King, Junior assembly. Rich told the students about having been in jail with King in Georgia, working with him on a number of campaigns, and other powerful memories of King's contributions to the civil rights victories of the 1960s.
This exhibit presents a small sample of Rich's historic collection of CORE materials, items he used in his presentation to the students of P.S. 199, New York City.