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Belmont Releases Schedule of Events for Annual MLK Celebration

Students hold candles at a previous MLK Day candlelight vigil on campus

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ―Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

In light of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16 and the legacy he left behind, Belmont University is hosting a 2-week string of events with the intention of memorializing, commemorating, clarifying and bearing witness to the mission and purpose of Dr. King’s fight for social justice. The schedule includes a candlelight vigil, keynote speaker, film screening and several discussions designed to engage students in conversations about diversity, race and ethnicity. The tradition of honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through university-organized events began in 1997 and continues today through the efforts of the MLK Jr. Commemorative Committee.

In addition to the on-campus events occurring throughout the next two weeks, members of the Belmont community will also participate in an MLK Joint Day of Service on January 14 in conjunction with eight local universities. After a morning of joint fellowship, volunteers will spend two hours of their time serving in the local area with projects at Second Harvest Food Bank, Feed the Children and other sites dealing with food security and service to veterans.

Drs. Erin Pryor and Shelby Longard, co-chairpersons of the commemorative committee, said, “Our intention is to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and his impact on the plight for racial equality. We also try to shed light on the true meaning and purpose of MLK Jr.’s message by encouraging an on-going, honest campus-wide dialogue about current race issues. In that spirit, we sought to bring speakers and events to campus that might engage a more active contemplation and engagement within the university community. Each year, we hope that the programming will cultivate active dialogue within our Belmont community wherein students, faculty, staff and the broader community can not only learn about King and his legacy, but will bring his dream to bear on the harsh realities of racial inequality that still plague our society. While it is important to celebrate the many gains and victories, we want to acknowledge that the journey is not finished … that this is not the time to be complacent; it is the time for action. And now, more than ever, we need his wisdom and grace.”

The following events are free and open to the Belmont community and the general public. For additional information, visit Belmont’s MLK website at www.belmont.edu/mlk.

  • Monday, January 16 at 7 p.m. – A candlelight vigil will be held in the Beaman Student Life Center lobby. Join Belmont students, staff and faculty to walk in procession across campus to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.
  • Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m. – Belmont will host a film screening of “Service to Man,” a movie about outsiders from radically different backgrounds that struggle to find a common purpose within the pressure cooker of Meharry, Nashville’s all-black medical school in the 1960’s. A dialogue will follow the film screening, which will take place in the Johnson Center Large Theater.
  • Wednesday, January 18 at 10 a.m. – Professor of African and African American Studies and the Study of Religion at Harvard University Dr. Marla Frederick will speak at Chapel on “Dreams Deferred: Race and Post-Obama.”
  • Wednesday, January 18 at 6 p.m. – The Black Student Association will lead an interactive worship service in the Chapel.
  • Thursday, January 19 at 5 p.m. – Dr. Chris Williamson will deliver the keynote address on the “There’s More to Dr. King than I Have a Dream” in the Chapel. The address will consider several other speeches by Dr. King in order to create a more holistic portrait of him and the changes he brought to this country.
  • Friday, January 20 at 10 a.m. – Dr. Chris Williamson will discuss Dr. King’s spiritual conversion in his talk on “Even a King needs the King” in the university Chapel.
  • Monday, January 23 at 9 a.m. – Students, faculty and staff will convene in the Massey Boardroom for an open discussion on how different people at Belmont experience race and ethnicity.
  • Wednesday, January 25, Thursday, January 26 and Friday, January 27 at 5 p.m. – “Real Talk with Gary Hunter: Getting Beneath the Surface of Diversity” will be held in Johnson Center room 130. “Real Talk” is a confidential and honest dialogue about diversity here at Belmont and abroad. Click here to sign up for one of three group sessions.