January 10, 2022

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day we honor his legacy and recognize our scholars who carry on his work of pursuing civil rights and social justice from fields as diverse as architecture to economics. 

The Graduate Center, CUNY · What It Takes to Free the Innocent and Create a Just Criminal Justice System​

Ph.D. candidate Edwin Grimsley (Sociology) previously worked at the Innocence Project, where he helped free seven people who were wrongly convicted. He spoke to The Thought Project podcast about his work and his research into the criminalization of marijuana possession and how it disproportionately affects Black people.

Anna Malaika Tubbs discusses her book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation with Professor Robyn Spencer (History, GC/Lehman College) and explains how Alberta Williams King influenced her son’s activism


International Horizons - Ralph Bunche Institute · The Legacy of Ralph Bunche with James Dandridge II

Ralph Bunche, the first Black American to win the Nobel Peace Prize and namesake of the Ralph Bunche Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center, helped lead the 1965 Civil Rights march organized by Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama. On this International Horizons podcast, James Dandridge II, vice chairman of the board of directors of the Diplomacy Center Foundation, reflects on the relationship between Bunche’s international diplomatic work and his involvement and participation in the civil rights movement.

Ralph Bunche (second from left) marching with Martin Luther King Jr. Credit: Laurence Henry. Schomburg Center photo.

Ralph Bunche (second from left) marching with Martin Luther King Jr. Credit: Laurence Henry. Schomburg Center photo. 

Learn more about the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies and how its scholars are continuing the legacy of the civil rights activist, diplomat, and U.N. leader. 


Alumnus Todd Levon Brown (Ph.D. ’21, Psychology) is putting his doctoral research into action with a prestigious fellowship that aims to bring social, environmental, and racial justice to the field of architecture.


Ph.D. student Benjamin Krusling is using poetry to address anti-Blackness and violence. “I wanted to write poetry that was politically engaged, about questions of power, but to also do that in a way that was not making use of violence for my own purposes,” he says. 

Yelena Dzhanova (Photo courtesy of Dzhanova)

Women’s and Gender Studies master’s student Yelena Dzhanova investigated the prosecutions of police officers who killed 50 Black women since 2015, finding that none of them had been convicted

Morgan C. Williams, Jr. (Photo courtesy of Williams)

Alumnus Morgan C. Williams, Jr. (Ph.D. ’18, Economics) is now a tenure-track professor at Barnard College of Columbia University, where he is continuing his pressing research into race and policing.

The Graduate Center, CUNY · Why the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Must Be Passed

Ph.D student Kevin Morris (Sociology) testified before Congress in favor of passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill passed the House in August but failed to clear the Senate.