WMU News

WMU, Northside Ministerial Alliance collaborate on MLK event

Sept. 18, 2002

KALAMAZOO --Western Michigan University and the Northside Ministerial Alliance of Kalamazoo will merge their observances of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The collaborative 2003 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will take place Sunday, Jan. 12, in WMU's Miller Auditorium, officials of both organizations announced this morning at the Ministerial Alliance's annual community prayer breakfast. In past years, the Northside Ministerial Alliance and the ecumenical community held their event in Chenery Auditorium the Sunday before the MLK holiday, while the University's annual convocation took place during its MLK Week celebration. The 2003 event will be held eight days before the national holiday.

"We look forward to kicking off the community's series of celebrations in honor of Dr. King," says Deveta Gardner, co-chairperson of WMU's Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. "The University is committed to partnering with the community in a wide variety of ways, and pooling our resources for this event will allow us to offer an extraordinarily meaningful observance. We are delighted that the members of the Northside Ministerial Alliance have committed their leadership to what promises to be an exceptional collaboration-one that we hope will exemplify Dr. King's ideals."

The theme for the celebration, believed to be the first partnership of its kind in Michigan, is "Moving the Dream into the Community: Civil Rights to Social Justice." The joint planning group is focused on ways to bridge generation gaps, spur action based on King's principles and ensure social justice for all people.

"The Northside Ministerial Alliance is very pleased to partner with WMU in the celebration of the life and living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," says the Rev. J. Louis Felton, president of the Northside Ministerial Alliance. "We applaud Dr. Floyd and the University's vision of including the Kalamazoo community as WMU pays homage to one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century.

"The University is a leader in Western Michigan in employment, research, economic development and social consciousness. This collaborative celebration will be one of the greatest moments in the history of our community as we call together all faiths, all creeds, all ethnicities, all walks of life. Now is the time for all of us to overcome any differences and celebrate our commonalities."

Officials also announced this morning that the keynote speaker for the Jan. 12 event will be Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers and the first woman to serve full time as chairperson of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is the author of "For Us, The Living," a book that depicts the life of her late husband and the civil rights struggle in Mississippi. Evers-Williams is also featured in the book and exhibit, "I Dream A World, Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America."

WMU's Martin Luther King Jr. Committee is dedicated to furthering social justice by engaging in meaningful education, research and service initiatives, and by coordinating events throughout the WMU and Kalamazoo communities. The Northside Ministerial Alliance, which partners with leaders from the Jewish, Muslim and other faiths to plan its MLK celebration, is an ecumenical body that strives to combat ignorance and apathy through education and grants to nonprofit organizations.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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