5. Mayor Wagner Honors King with Medallion (1964)

Martin Luther King Jr. with Coretta Scott King and Mayor Wagner
Mayor Robert F. Wagner shakes hands with Coretta Scott King at City Hall. Photo from the Library of Congress

In 1964 King was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and New York City offered its congratulations. On December 17, 1964, King was honored with the City of New York Medallion of Honor at an event in the City Council chambers at City Hall. Not only were the City’s religious leaders on hand, but the national anthem was played by the Department of Sanitation Band.

In bestowing King with the Medallion, Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. offered, “This is not your city of residence, Dr. King, but it is your city nevertheless… We claim you, henceforth, as an honorary New Yorker.” During Wagner’s three terms, he generally demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights. During the prior year, he struggled with demonstrations related to school integration, and he would not run for re-election the following year.