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50 years later, week’s activities honor famous speech

By Katherine Wartell

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, given in 1963 in Washington D.C. during the March on Washington.

King famously declared his dream “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal,’” and that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The march and the speech are credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that targeted discrimination against minorities.

To commemorate the occasion, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Planning Committee, with Kansas State University, chose the theme of this year’s MLK Observance Week to be “50 Years of Pursuing the Dream.”

The week, occurring between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1, will include several speakers, including a speechwriter and friend of King’s, and a candlelight vigil.

Saturday, Jan. 26

The celebration kicks off with a screening of “The Rosa Parks Story” at the Marianna Kiesler Beach Museum of Art at 1 p.m.

The film stars Angela Bassett as Rosa Parks and sheds light on her life prior to and after Parks refused to give up her seat on a racially segregated bus, a refusal for which she was jailed. 


Monday, Jan. 28

There are two events Monday: a diversity lecture planned by the College of Architecture, Planning and Design and a screening of “Red Tails” at the K-State campus in Salina.

Ray Huff, from the architecture firm Huff and Gooden Architects, will speak at 4 p.m. in the Little Theatre in the K-State Student Union.

Prior to founding his firm with partner Mario Gooden, Huff conducted design studios for 25 years in South Carolina and was the founding director of the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston. He continues to hold the position of assistant professor of architecture at the center.

Huff will speak on his experiences in regard to diversity.

The film “Red Tails,” which will be screened at the College Center conference room at K-State Salina at 7 p.m., stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard and tells the story of African American servicemen during World War II.


Tuesday, Jan. 29

Eric Johnson, a senior pastor at Mt. Calvary 2nd Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, Ohio, will give a lecture titled, “Is the Dream Dead or Alive?” in the Cottonwood Room at the K-State Student Union at 11:30 a.m.

Zelia Wiley, assistant dean for diversity and director of the Diversity Programs Office in the College of Agriculture, helped to orchestrate the speech, which will be given during the eighth annual College of Agriculture Diversity Student Leader Luncheon.

Wiley said Johnson was awarded the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award in Canton in 2012. He was chosen, she said, because he will provide a good perspective on social justice. Johnson has a doctorate in divinity.

Readers can contact Wiley at (785) 532-5793 to reserve a seat at the luncheon.

The Commerce Bank Awards for Diversity Excellence also takes place on Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the K-State Alumni Center.


Wednesday, Jan. 30

The first speaker of the day is Raymond Hall, the director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Cargill, Inc. He will address the 14th annual College of Business Diversity Lecture, at 10:30 to 11:20 a.m. in Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union.

Tracey Gibson, also from Cargill, Inc., will speak later in the evening at the annual MLK Memorial Program and candlelight vigil, which begins at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of the K-State Student Union.

Gibson is the global inclusion and sustainability leader for the company, which has sponsored much of the week’s festivities.

Bronson Blackwell, a senior at K-State and member of the week’s planning committee, said Gibson will speak on King’s continued relevance, the progression of diversity issues and where the country stands now.

Following the vigil, there will be a hot chocolate reception in the K-State Student Union.


Thursday, Jan. 31

Clarence Jones, a close friend of King’s, will speak in the K-State Alumni Center Ballroom during the MLK Fellowship Luncheon, between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Jones was a speechwriter and advisor to King and assisted in writing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He is presently a visiting professor at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. 

The luncheon is reserved seating and costs $15. The deadline for reserving a seat is Jan. 24 and reservations can be made on the K-State website.


Friday, Feb. 1

To close the week, there will be the laying of the wreaths on King’s bust at Ahearn Fieldhouse at 2 p.m. on the K-State campus.

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