Actor Jim Lucas performed dramatic recitations of some of Martin Luther King Jr'.s speeches.
The 80th anniversary of the birth of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was marked at Lehigh with a memorial convocation that filled Packer Church Monday with spirited song and rousing oratory honoring King’s lifelong struggle for social justice.
Nearly 250 members of the Lehigh community braved the snowy weather to celebrate King’s legacy through the theme of “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” a warning King issued to his followers in his final sermon.
Coming on the eve of the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president, the timeliness of King’s message was not lost on the day’s speakers.
Actor Jim Lucas, who offered dramatic recitations of several of King’s memorable speeches, recalled King’s first appearance on national television during the famous March on Washington in August 1963, when African-Americans still were not guaranteed the right to vote. Forty-five years later to the day, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
University Chaplain Lloyd Steffen called the inauguration of Obama “another step in the social revolution Dr. King created,” and Multicultural Affairs Director John McKnight spoke of the “spirit of joy in the air” in anticipation of the inaugural events.
Community organizer Phyllis Alexander of Allentown said that “as a country, we’ve gone from ‘we shall overcome’ to ‘yes we can,’ and if everyone does his or her part, ‘yes we can’ will become our reality.”
Some 250 members of the Lehigh community attended the convocation.
Lehigh President Alice P. Gast spoke of the resonance of King’s words, and urged attendees to take these words to heart, and to take part in the series of Lehigh events to “celebrate the life and works of this extraordinary leader.”
Gast also thanked the members of the Lehigh MLK Planning committee, which included members from all segments of the Lehigh community.
The Memorial Convocation kicked off a week-long series of events to celebrate King’s legacy. Events include an Interfaith Breakfast, a faculty research forum, a performance by Step Afrika, community service activities, and the live telecast of the inauguration of President Obama.
Following performances by the Greater Shiloh Choir, Chris Diggs, assistant director of Career Services, and K. Sivakumar, Arthur Tauck Chair and professor of marketing, presented awards to honor the work of those who have distinguished themselves in the service of the university and neighboring communities, and who embody the ideals articulated by King in his speeches and writings.
The 2009 MLK Award recipients were:
Faculty awards went to:
Seth Moglen, associate professor of English and interim director of the Humanities
Tina Q. Richardson, associate professor of counseling psychology
The staff award went to:
Kathleen Hutnik, director of the Office of Graduate Student Life
Student awards went to:
Karl Brisseaux ’11
Michelle Harris ’09
Matthew Adib Malouf (graduate student)
Student organizations honored are:
“Break the Silence,” a group of Lehigh students who volunteer to address the issue of
sexual violence on campus
Kaleidoscope, group of undergraduate and graduate students who facilitate campus
programs related to social justice, multiculturalism and equity
The Lehigh Alumnus Award went to:
Eddie Ramos ’89
Community organizations and individuals honored included:
Reverend Beth Goudy (Community Member Award)
Community Bike Works (Community Organization Award)
The local business award went to:
And the corporate award went to:
Air Products Corporation
For more information on all the MLK events at Lehigh, please go to www.lehigh.edu/~inking
Photos by Theo Anderson