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Lehigh celebrates King's legacy

President Alice P. Gast addresses the crowd gathered below the University Center to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

President Alice P. Gast officially kicked off Lehigh’s 10-day slate of events and activities celebrating the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. by calling for the campus community to honor his memory by following his example in service to others—particularly in the wake of the tragic and devastating earthquake in Haiti.

On the day set aside to mark King’s 81st birthday, Gast joined with students, faculty and staff in a gathering on the lawn in front of the University Center. She was introduced by Jame’l Hodges, the new director of Multicultural Affairs and head of the MLK celebration planning committee, who opened the event with a moment of silence to reflect upon King’s great work.

Gast spoke of King’s profound commitment to social justice, which touched the conscience of the nation and changed the course of history. She also urged the campus community to help create “an inclusive environment in which we all learn, work, and live together, transcending racial, cultural and all other boundaries.”

Read the full text of her remarks.  

Over the course of the following days, the university will also host a convocation featuring a talk by Carmen Twillie Ambar, president of Cedar Crest College; an interfaith breakfast; an open conversation on religion, inclusion and diversity; and community service work. Lehigh’s MLK celebration will be capped by a keynote address given by William Gray on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Gray, a former Congressman from Philadelphia, is also a retired minister and former president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund.

Volunteer opportunities include working with Lehigh’s after-school homework clubs for elementary school students on Jan. 19-21. Student volunteers will help the younger students write poems and short essays and design quilt pieces. The projects will focus on the theme of King’s life and his “I Have a Dream” speech that he delivered in August 1963.

The events include:

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 4 p.m.: A Memorial Convocation in Packard 101 will include a talk by Ambar, and the conferring of the university’s MLK Awards.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, noon: Student rally on the UC front lawn (Rain location and time will be Packard Auditorium at 4 p.m.)

Thursday, Jan. 21, 8:15 a.m.: Interfaith Breakfast, Asa Packer Dining Room

Friday, Jan. 22, 6 p.m.: The First Annual MLK Jr. Lehigh University Oratorical Presentation and High School Essay Contest (featuring the university’s STRIVE and STAR students), Lamberton Hall. The theme of the contest entries will be “I Dream Lehigh To Be.”

Monday, Jan. 25, 4:10 p.m.: Open Conversation on Religion, Inclusion and Diversity in Maginnes Hall 101

Tuesday, Jan. 26, Noon to 2 p.m.: Faculty, Staff and Student Lunch Discussion on Social Justice, University Center Room 303

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m.: MLK Jr. Celebration Keynote Address by William Gray in Baker Hall.

Photo by Douglas Benedict

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Monday, January 18, 2010

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