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Case Study: The King Center

Living memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. thrives on Drupal

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change was founded in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King as a living memorial and education center to continue the work of her husband.

As part of an initiative to update and revitalize, the center partnered with JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) through the Technology for Social Good program. The goal was highly ambitious: to digitize hundreds of thousands of the more than 1,000,000 items in the center’s collection, and to make these primary source materials available to the world through the Internet for the first time. In the collection are documents and images from the life and work of Dr. King, such as drafts of the “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as items from the wider Civil Rights Movement.

To store the imaged documents, the open source document management system Alfresco was chosen for its flexibility and sustainability. Extensible, open source Drupal integrates with Alfresco and was the natural choice as website platform.

“We are excited to have our site built on Drupal. Drupal is driven and developed by the community, consistent with the ideals of The King Center.” -Rick Rose, IT Director at The King Center.

How they did it

C&G Partners, the site’s design team, brought in Palantir.net, a website development company that specializes in Drupal. George DeMet, founder and CEO at Palantir, remembers, “It was a large project with many moving parts. Eight separate organizations were involved, including AT&T and EMC.

“One of the reasons we love building with Drupal is that it works like glue to bring together content from diverse sources. For the King Center online archive, we have the images from Alfresco stored on an Atmos cloud and pulled into Drupal, which is itself hosted on Acquia Cloud.

“Our biggest challenge was building out the Alfresco integration while content was still being entered into the system. The project had a hard launch date of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2012, and development couldn’t wait until all of the data structures and taxonomies were finalized.

“In order to ensure that we met the deadlines for the project, we worked closely with Micro Strategies, Inc., the company that implemented the Alfresco infrastructure, and JPMC to accommodate ongoing changes in the production environment.”

Rick Rose, IT Director at the King Center, recalls, “Palantir delivered on everything we requested. It was a very smooth process. When deadline crunches forced accelerated timelines, they always came through.

“Our sponsors at JPMC anticipated heavy traffic for the site and wanted a cloud based host to handle burst traffic and scale up quickly as needed. Knowing that we would also need managed hosting and a fully managed Drupal stack, Palantir recommended Acquia.

“We had no idea how many visitors we would get on launch day. The site received a tremendous amount of attention around launch day, from news stories, articles, and blog posts, to JPMC’s promotion at Madison Square Garden the week of launch, to the Google doodle for the holiday bringing people to the site through search.

“Acquia worked with us using partnership with SOASTA to load test the site up to 25,000 concurrent users. They ramped up the hardware and got everything as streamlined as possible. This level of preparation made us and our sponsors comfortable that there would be no problems with the launch.”

The results

On launch day, the site came through with flying colors, serving 175,000+ unique visitors. The site broadens public perception of Dr. King’s philosophy through a deeper understanding of his work and is becoming a definitive source for the history of that turbulent time. Initially, the site served over 5,000 documents from the archive. 200,000 have been imaged and more of those are added to the site every day as their preparations are completed. See these rare items for yourself at www.thekingcenter.org.

DeMet explains, “Advance research told us some of the things educators wanted from the site. One goal was the ability to share these treasures with others, functionality that we included. Monitoring social media sites like Twitter and Facebook on launch day, we could see that the site was working as envisioned.

“In the coming months, additional information will be added to provide historical context for material from the archive, about people, places, and topics from the Civil Rights Movement. New ‘Share Your Dream’ functionality will allow individuals to post their dreams to the world from the site.”

Rose notes, “As a small non-profit, it’s great to have Acquia’s 24/7 support to make sure for all of this remains available to the public without interruption. Acquia handles all the upgrades, security, and performance issues for the site and are always available if we need advice. Once JPMC’s project is complete and we take over, it will be important to have that level of support.”

Acquia and Palantir made the whole process run smoothly, getting the site running and doing thorough preparation to guarantee that launch day was a success
Rick Rose
IT Director at The King Center

Company Information

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Resource center/memorial to the legacy of Dr. King
Not-for-profit organization
30 employees
Drupal user since 2011
Acquia client since 2011
  • 175,000+ unique visitors on launch day
  • Load tested up to 25,000 concurrent users
  • 5,000+ digitized items online