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MLK Receives Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree at Yale

June 15, 1964 - Dr. Martin Luther King received a standing ovation today from 10,000 persons at Yale University’s 263rd commencement.

The tribute came as the 35-year-old civil rights leader received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kingman Brewster Jr., president of Yale.

Dr. King, who was released on $900 bail on Saturday from a St. Augustine, Fla., jail, was cited for an “eloquence that has kindled the nation’s sense of outrage” and for having displayed a “steadfast refusal to countenance violence.”

Dr. King, who is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was arrested in St. Augustine last Thursday after he had attempted to eat in a restaurant. He and 17 other Negroes were charged with violating Florida’s unwanted-guest law.

At a press conference after today’s ceremony, Dr. King said civil rights groups were going to test provisions of the pending civil rights bill this summer in selected Southern cities.

He listed the cities as Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Gadsden, all in Alabama; Albany, Ga., and St. Augustine. He said the Justice Department would be informed of the plans.

Dr. King, urging that the bill be vigorously implemented, criticized Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) for his opposition to the legislation. He said the Arizona Republican was leading his party to “disaster” by his stand.


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