MLK History

Historic connection between King, Beacon Press, and the UUA

Since it’s founding in 1854, Beacon Press has been committed to publishing writings that shed light on the social justice issues of the day including racial brotherhood, war and peace, women’s rights, and abolition. One of the press’s earliest publications, a free pamphlet that was distributed to Union soldiers entitled A Soldier’s Companion, offered words of comfort and courage to the troops, but also promoted ideas of abolition and equality.

Many UUA members were directly involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Dana McLean Greeley, the first president of the consolidated Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), marched in Selma with Dr. King and issued a call to Unitarian Universalist clergy to join the freedom marches in 1965. UUs Rev. James J. Reeb and Viola Gregg Liuzzo lost their lives in the struggle. Dr. King delivered the eulogy at Rev. Reeb’s funeral in 1965, and the following year he was invited to deliver the 1966 UUA Ware Lecture, in which he urged UUs not to “sleep through the revolution.” In 1968, Beacon Press published Dr. King’s final book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”

In March 2009, the UUA hosted a week long tour called the UU Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage which served to promote a deeper understanding of racism and injustice, issues that the association continues to battle today. Dr. King’s message has long been intertwined with that of the UUA and Beacon Press. The new partnership between The Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Beacon Press is a new expression of this historical connection.


Other Links:

- Dr. King’s Ware Lecture in which he personally speaks about his ties to the UUA (2nd paragraph of his speech).