A Chronology: 1969

Compiled by Howard Dodson

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1969

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center launches January 15, 1969, in a ceremony on Auburn Avenue at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park, site of the future Memorial Center.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center names Vincent Harding its founding director and establishes the Institute of the Black World as research arm of the Center.

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The National Advisory Council for an Institute of Afro-American Studies convenes in March to plan the program for the Institute.

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The Institute holds planning session staff meetings in April, May, and June.

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The Institute’s Summer Research Seminar focuses on documenting the emergence of Black Studies Programs nationally. Students from Columbia University and Wesleyan University come to Atlanta to serve as interns in the Research Seminar.

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The Institute of the Black World begins to function officially in September with Vincent Harding as Director and with Lerone Bennett, Jr., Steve Henderson, Chester Davis, Bill Strickland, Sterling Stuckey, and Joyce Ladner as Senior Research Fellows.

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The Institute of the Black World convenes its first national conference of Black Studies Directors in November. Lerone Bennett and Vincent Harding provide keynote lectures on “The Challenge of Blackness” and “Beyond Chaos: Black History and the Search for the New Land” respectively.

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IBW Senior Research Fellows offer seminars on Black History and Cultural themes in their areas of expertise.

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IBW hosts public lectures featuring Margaret Walker, Horace Clayton, and CLR James among others.

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Gerald McWhorter, A.B. Spellman and Lawrence Rushing resign from the IBW Planning staff because of issues arising out of the lock-in. Two students involved in lock-in — James Early and Bryce Smith — join IBW staff.

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Harry Haywood, Communist intellectual, activist and organizer in the 1930s and 1940s, takes up residence at the Institute to begin writing his autobiography.

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On December 2, for the first time the Institute of the Black World becomes a subject of interest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Atlanta FBI notes that “there is a connection between this group and the Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham, N.C.”

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The FBI is also interested in determining “the specific nature and/or interest of Mrs. King in its operations.” FBI claims on December 13, 1969, that Mrs. King’s… only interest in the Institute of the Black World … stems from the fact that VINCENT HARDING, who is connected with the Institute… has been in the employ of an organization started by Mrs. King… for the establishment of a library… in commemoration of… Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.