On Aug. 6th, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. unveiled a travelling exhibit featuring nearly 200,000 digitized historical documents from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at its downtown Chicago headquarters. The booth was on display at Chase Tower, 10 S. Dearborn from Aug. 6-10 and consists of the civil rights leader’s letters, speeches and sermons.
The traveling exhibit has been on the road for about a year, according to Chase spokeswoman Christine Holevas.
Chase Bank was approached by The King Center in Atlanta to help in preserving Dr. King’s effects from The King Papers collection. The collection houses some of King’s most famous speeches and correspondence such as the I Have A Dream Speech, the Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech. Chase began digitizing the documents in April 2011 and funded the project through its corporate responsibility initiative, Technology for Social Good.
The long process of imaging and archiving the historical documents employed the help of students from Morehouse and Spelman colleges, Kennesaw State University and Emory University, veterans and Chase staff.
James V. Gilliam, vice president, community reinvestment at Chase told the Chicago Citizen that this project is highly significant—especially for youth.
“Kids all over the world…at the touch of a computer will be able to understand exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King stood for and be able to access material like this.”
Dr. Carol Adams, president and CEO, DuSable Museum also weighed in on the project’s importance saying that the exhibit shows King was a regular person.
“I am excited that these documents are going to be so readily available to people who want to research,” Adams said. “To think they can actually see his (King’s) homework, the notes he took in college (and) the exam book from 1946…it makes him a person to them as opposed to some figure.”
State Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-3rd, told the Chicago Citizen the project meant a lot to her because she also admires Dr. King and his influence. At age 11, Hunter met the Civil Rights pioneer while he was in Chicago.
“Many people do not want to take the time and conduct research on who Dr. Martin Luther King was and what he stood for, but they don’t have an excuse now because it’s all digitized and it’s online,” the senator said. “So many young people are online today …so if they would take out maybe even an hour to scan through the archives they’ll learn so much of what the movement was all about.”
In a statement, Martin Luther King III, Dr. King’s son and president and CEO of the The King Center thanked Chase for its role in helping preserving his father’s legacy.
“Our valued relationship with JP Morgan Chase and their innovative Technology for Social Good program is helping to preserve and extend my father’s important message to sustain the momentum of nonviolent social change around the world.”
The exhibit is currently on display at Milwaukee Public Library in Milwaukee, Wis. and will continue to travel the country throughout 2012.
To view the complete archive of historical King documents please visit www.thekingcenter.org.
By Thelma Sardin