Belmont University Celebrates MLK Day with Two Weeks of Special Events

mlk-day-2014-155In celebration of the Jan. 19 anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth date, Belmont University will hold two weeks of special events. The University’s theme for 2015 is “Living Memory: Bringing Dr. King’s Vision into the Present Day.” The University’s commitment to Martin Luther King Jr. Week through classroom and special events began in 1997 and continues to grow today.

Dr. Peter Kuryla, associate professor of history and chairman of Belmont’s 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee, said, “When the committee met this fall to plan our program, it was clear to us that current events will and should inevitably inform how we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King this year. To somehow refuse to acknowledge our current racial climate and the protests that have developed around events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island would be to indulge in what the novelist Ralph Ellison once described as the ‘fantasies [that] become operative whenever the nation grows weary of the struggle toward the ideal of American democratic equality.’ In that spirit, we chose the theme ‘Living Memory: Bringing Dr. King’s Vision into the Present Day.’ With this theme in mind and in keeping with Dr. King’s prophetic social vision, we’ve brought together programming that considers the legacy of the movement in light of present-day concerns. We look forward to a campus-wide conversation.”

img_0203In addition to campus programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded Belmont University a $2,500 grant through Hope Worldwide to complete six MLK Day of Service projects on Jan. 17 in conjunction with Tennessee State University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Lipscomb University and Vanderbilt University. Andrew Maraniss, author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sport in the South, will speak to student volunteers from area colleges and universities at TSU’s Kean Hall. Participants will be split between a number of volunteer opportunities including creating and dispersing disaster preparedness kits to senior centers, packing food boxes at Feed the Children, sorting shoes for Souls4Soles, sorting building supplies at Habitat Restore and sorting medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E.

For more information or to sign up for the MLK Day of Service, click here.

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

  • Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. – The “Remembering Dr. King” film and discussion series will feature Dr. King’s “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” a sermon delivered at the funerals for the victims of the 16th Ave. Baptist Church in Birmingham bombing. The sermon viewing will conclude with a thoughtful and respectful discussion of recent events including the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
  • Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. – The “Remembering Dr. King” film and discussion series will feature Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in Washington D.C. in 1963. Following the viewing of this speech, a discussion will be held surrounding the meaning of freedom in light of the diminishment of rights by race and class both in the 1960s and contemporary U.S. society.
  • Jan 16 at 10 a.m. – The “Remembering Dr. King” film and discussion series will feature Dr. King’s “Where Do We Go From Here” speech delivered in 1967 in Atlanta and will conclude with a discussion of the correlation between poverty, race and the socially disenfranchised in the U.S.
  • Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.– A Candlelight Vigil will be held in the Beaman Student Life Center lobby. Join Belmont students, staff and faculty as we walk to stations across the University, in the process contemplating different facets of the movement and the man who became a central organizing symbol for it.
  • Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. – The MLK Worship Service with the Black Student Association will be held in the Wedgewood Academic Center Chapel. This event will include worship, music and song to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. – “Eyewitness to Ferguson,” a lecture and discussion led by Boston University Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning and Clinical Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology and Practice Pamela Lightsey, will be held in the Beaman Student Life Center, Lecture Halls A&B. Lightsey will discuss her recent work among the Ferguson happenings, including her documentation of protests and the faith community in Ferguson.
  • Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. – A University Chapel lecture on “Marching with Dr. Martin Luther King” by Alvin Turner and Baxter Leach, two sanitation workers in Memphis that accompanied Dr. King on his last march in 1968, will be held in the Chapel. Turner and Leach will be discussing their experiences and interactions with Dr. King.
  • Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. – The MLK Week Keynote Address “The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Right Movement” by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Taylor Branch will be held in the Wedgewood Academic Center Chapel. Branch wrote the book Parting the Waters: America in the King Years and followed it with two additional volumes on the King Years, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. His most recent publication, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement,  includes excerpts from his prize-winning civil rights trilogy
  • Jan 27 at 2 p.m. – A Campus Dialogue on race and ethnicity led by Belmont Telecommunications Service Manager Gary Hunter will be held in the Vince Gill Room. Students, faculty and staff will assemble for an open and frank discussion of how different people at Belmont experience race and ethnicity on campus. This event will be conducted in a spirit of reconciliation and is designed to strengthen our campus culture.