WMU News

WMU celebrates King birthday, Jan. 18-23

January 13, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- With a theme of "Courage to Live the Dream: Commitment, Community, Opportunity," Western Michigan University has scheduled more than 35 free public events and activities to celebrate the birthday Monday, Jan. 18, of the late Martin Luther King Jr.

The week-long observance features several major events, including:

The All-University Convocation, with words, music and dance, at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, in Miller Auditorium. Speakers will include WMU President Elson S. Floyd, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, Tony Award-winning choreographer David McKayle and the Rev. Antonio D. Benitez of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kalamazoo as well as students.

McKayle, a King/Chavez/Parks Visiting Artist in the WMU Department of Dance, will be the keynote speaker. Portions of his dance piece "Rainbow Suite" will be performed by WMU dance students. In addition, Eliana Cutrim and Lenora Brito will perform Afro-Brazilian works on piano for four hands. The Mass Choir of Allen Chapel AME Church in Kalamazoo also will perform.

The MLK Festival, a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic celebration, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center. It will feature remarks by Dr. Theresa A. Powell, WMU vice president for student services, and the winner of the annual "I Have a Dream" speech contest sponsored by the WMU Residence Hall Association.

In addition, festival goers will be treated to performances by three singing groups--the International Fellowship Choir, the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Choir and the Voices of WMU Gospel Choir. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will have a presentation, there will be a slide show on the life of MLK and students will give testimonials on the impact of MLK on their lives.

A University Forum that will tackle the topic of affirmative action in higher education at noon Thursday, Jan. 21, in the MLK Room of the Bernhard Center. The focus will be a book, "The Shape of the River," by Derek Bok and William Bowen. The facilitator will be Edward Blues, an attorney who is president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan.

The event is sponsored by the Graduate College, University Libraries, Office of Affirmative Action, Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Sociology and Department of Black Americana Studies. Dr. Shirley Clay Scott, dean of the Graduate College at WMU, will introduce the speaker.

President Floyd announced Sept. 10 that MLK Day for the first time would be a University holiday at WMU. Previously classes were canceled for the observance but the University remained open. This is the 10th year that WMU officially has recognized the birthday of the slain civil rights leader.

"It is my hope that all members of the University community will use the opportunity of this holiday to come together to honor Dr. King's dedication to equality and freedom for all persons," Floyd said. "We also welcome those from the larger community to share in these many and varied events."

A complete list of events and activities is being distributed to the University community this week and is available on the World Wide Web at <www.wmich.edu/mlkday>. The MLK Day site also provides links to related MLK resources around the country as well as to a site at WMU about King's visit to Kalamazoo and his speech Dec. 18, 1963, at WMU.

Other campus MLK Day events will include:

The WMU student chapter of the NAACP's march to MLK Park near downtown Kalamazoo, leaving from the Bernhard Center at noon Jan. 18. A program of reflections will be presented at the park.

A science and art fair for Kalamazoo area K-12 students from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Bernhard Center, sponsored by Student Volunteer Services in the Lee Honors College.

The Division of Minority Affairs' annual MLK Program banquet, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, in the Fetzer Center. The featured speaker will be Felix Sharpe, assistant to Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. The cost is $10 per person.

The Minority Student Leadership Conference's annual lock-in from 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, to 6 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, in Read Fieldhouse. The event offers food, activities and "rap sessions" on the impact of King's beliefs today.

The University's observance of King's birthday is being coordinated by the MLK Day Committee of the Faculty Senate through the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations. The committee is chaired by Dr. David M. Lyth, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and includes students, faculty members and staff members.

Web site chronicles 1963 King visit and speech at WMU

The University Libraries and its Archives and Regional History Collections at Western Michigan University have developed a World Wide Web site that focuses on the visit to WMU by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech he gave in Read Fieldhouse on Dec. 18, 1963.

It is available from WMU's MLK Web page at <www.wmich.edu/mlkday> or directly at <www.wmich.edu/library/archives-MLK.html>. The page includes photographs of King at WMU and excerpts of King's speech in Read Fieldhouse as well as the full text of the speech. It also provides an introduction that sets out the historical context of King's visit and its effect and resulting programs at WMU as well as many other resources.

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu

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