Belmont University’s annual MLK Week programming will begin Monday, January 17 and will continue through the next week in honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The events this year will take place both online and in-person; the full lineup of events can be found on Belmont’s MLK website.
With this year’s theme again being “A Legacy of Uplift,” the intention of the week is to focus on the importance of uplift and the fact that while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an activist, preacher and civil leader, he also brought a great deal of hope and uplift to the world.
Since taking position last summer, Belmont President Dr. Greg Jones continuously charges the Belmont community with becoming a Hope Inspiring and a Bridge Building people. This celebration is a perfect chance to shift mindsets going into the new year. Dr. Jones invited the community to take part in as many events as possible, saying, “It is my hope that our campus will come together for next week’s events and continue to shine as a beacon of light, uplifting our communities by continuing Dr. King’s legacy.”
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Program was established in January of 1997 at Belmont University as a celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each of the commemorative events are open to the Belmont community and to the public and all are welcome and invited to attend.
The week kicks off on Monday, January 17 with the “MLK Day of Service” in which the community is encouraged to serve either virtually or in person. A more extensive Joint Day of Service with other students across the city is being planned for Saturday, April 2: the Saturday before the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination on April 6. Monday’s kick off concludes with a 6 p.m. candlelight vigil in Gabhart A&B, sponsored by the Black Student Association.
Belmont’s ongoing “Real Talk” series, a students-only event hosted on Zoom where students are encouraged to discuss topical issues, will be offered each evening January 18 – 20 on Zoom. There will also be a “Real Talk” offered for faculty and staff only at lunchtime on January 20.
On January 19, the MLK Jr. Week Keynote Address given by Dr. Esau McCaulley will be held in the Gabhart chapel at 10 a.m. Dr. Esau McCaulley’s recent book, “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope” has won numerous awards including Christianity Today’s book of the year. Rev. McCaulley is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and teaches New Testament at Wheaton College.
The week concludes on January 21 with the MLK Jr. Week Sermon held in Gabhart Chapel at 10 a.m. The sermon will be given by Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, president of the African Methodist Episcopal Council of Bishops in addition to shepherding the AME churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. She has established a vocational school in Haiti, re-established the AME Church in Cuba, was instrumental in planting ten churches and is the author of several books. Following chapel, black-owned food trucks will be parked on The Lawn at 12 p.m. for the campus community to enjoy lunch together.
MLK Celebration sponsors include the MLK Celebration Committee, Athletics, Bridges to Belmont, Office of Multicultural Learning & Experience, Spiritual Development, University Ministries, Teaching Center, Student Life, Office of Service Learning, the Black Student Association and College of Music and Performing Arts.