The UC Santa Barbara Library unveiled a commemoration of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the Ethnic and Gender Studies Collection on Jan. 10. The display includes materials from UCSB’s own library archival and other circulating collections.

The team hopes that the commemoration of Dr. King not only informs UCSB community members of Dr. King’s life and activism, but inspires viewers to keep his dream alive and educate themselves on the civil rights movement. Courtesy of the Empire State Plaza

Ethnic and Gender Studies and Special Collections Curator Yolanda Blue and Angela Chikowero — a research and engagement librarian and a subject librarian for Black studies, business, communication, economics, and history — curated the collection alongside Diversity and Engagement Assistant Marcos Aguilar. 

“The dream was talked about by Martin Luther King, but is it dead? No. That dream should linger on, it should go on, and through engaging with some of these collections that we have, [it] is one way that we can ensure that we are educating our UCSB community and beyond … that we are making sure that the dream lingers on or the dream goes on,” Chikowero said.

The commemoration includes a wide variety of materials, some of which are available for students to check out. 

“Currently on display, we have books and we also have DVDs, movies … we also have a VHS, and these are coming from our Black Studies collection and the UCSB library,” Chikowero said.

The team found newspaper articles and included them in the commemoration. A flier is shown at the exhibit with instructions on how students can view materials. 

Chikowero said putting the commemoration together was a “collaborative process.”

Blue said the team used the online platform Calisphere and the online archive of California to discover the materials throughout the UC system that are now included in the display. 

Aguilar talked further about the process and how the team was able to discover primary documents for the display within the library. 

“When Angela and Yolanda invited me to join in on this display effort, I immediately thought of an underused part of our Black Studies collection on the second floor of the library, which is our poster collection. And there are a lot of primary types of resources, sometimes very rare posters that have been signed by activists and speakers and authors, creators of all different kinds, and large-format original prints of things,” Aguilar said. 

Editions of the Daily Nexus are also included in the commemoration as historical documents. 

“We digitized in special collector’s the Daily Nexus from the 1920s … And so within those digitized newspapers you can go online and find everything about events that happened on campus, including commemorations regarding Dr. King and even when he was assassinated, articles about that as well,” Blue said. 

The team hopes that the commemoration of Dr. King not only informs UCSB community members of Dr. King’s life and activism, but inspires viewers to keep his dream alive and educate themselves on the civil rights movement. 

“How many of our students know what happened? They may not know but by visiting the display, it may be a lightbulb moment for them to try to find out … this display is all about what really happened,” Chikowero said. “And from there, that’s when we can start a conversation where people can start learning by reading these books and go back to the civil rights era and look at some of the struggles that we’ve had to go through to come to this moment.”

Blue also said that the exhibit can be used for academic and research purposes by students. 

“It also is a means to engage students, so that they can also take ownership, arouse their curiosity, as well as learners, create their own attitudes about what Dr. King stood for and the movement. Maybe it will help in writing research papers or arouse a curiosity about delving even further into the movements that are taking place now,” she said.

The group plans to continue updating the commemoration, and it will run concurrently with a Black History Month display that is planned to be installed in February. 

“The Civil Rights era kind of ties in with some of the movements that we have at the moment like Black Lives Matter. They’re all connected, but Black Lives Matter didn’t just happen in a vacuum. There were time frames or tail events that happened before that’s connected to what is happening,” Chikowero said. “So the goal is to remind people that this event happened. We have resources, and let’s go back to the resources and kind of remind ourselves of where we are, where we are coming from and where we are headed.”