Belmont University Celebrates MLK Day with Two Weeks of Special Events

MLK candle

Staff, faculty and students gather during the MLK Candlelight Vigil around the Bell Tower.

Belmont, TSU, Trevecca students join together for MLK Day of Service on Jan. 18

 In celebration of the Jan. 15 anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth date, Belmont University will hold two weeks of special events. The University’s theme for 2014 is “Postracial: The Problem of the Color Line in the 21st Century.” The University’s commitment to Martin Luther King Jr. Week through classroom and special events began in 1997 and continues to grow today. New this year are showings of documentaries  related to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

“In recent years, there has been a great deal of talk about whether or not we live in a so-called ‘post-racial’ society. In order to explore more fully this controversial idea, the committee this year thought it best to look to the past for inspiration. In that spirit, we chose as our theme, ‘Postracial: The Problem of the Color Line in the 21st Century,’ an homage to W.E.B. DuBois’ famous pronouncement, written well over a century ago, that ‘the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line,’” said Peter Kuryla, assistant professor of history and chairman of Belmont’s 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee. “So recalling DuBois and in keeping with Dr. King’s prophetic social vision, we’ve put together programming that addresses this issue of the color line from a variety of perspectives. We look forward to a campus-wide conversation.”

Students stuff emergency kits at Red Cross during the MLK Joint Day of Service in 2012.

Students stuff emergency kits at Red Cross during the MLK Joint Day of Service in 2012.

In addition to campus programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded Belmont University a $1,500 grant to complete five MLK Day of Service projects on Jan. 18 in conjunction with Tennessee State University and Trevecca Nazarene University. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper will speak to nearly 300 students from 11 area colleges and universities at TSU’s Kean Hall before they paint McKissack Middle School, help at Hadley Park Library and Community Center, sort food at Second Harvest Food Bank, organize medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E. and move the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Middle Tennessee into its new location.

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 www.belmont.edu/mlk.

  • 10 a.m. Jan. 15 – A showing of the PBS Civil Rights documentary “Eyes on the Prize” in the Multimedia Hall to give students a better understanding of the early movement for social equality in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • 10 a.m. Jan. 17 – A showing of “Beneath the Skin” in the Multimedia Hall. This documentary produced by ethicsdaily.com invites viewers to consider the relationship between religion and racism from a Baptist point of view.
  • 6 p.m. Jan. 20 – Candlelight Vigil 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.
  • 10 a.m. Jan. 22MLK Week Keynote Address “Postracial Blues: Notes on Religion and the Twenty-First Century Color Line” by Dr. J. Kameron Carter in Neely Dining Hall. Carter teaches black church studies and theology at Duke University and is author of Race: A Theological Account.
  • 7 p.m. Jan. 22 – MLK Worship Service with the Black Student Association in Neely Dining Hall. This event promises to be an interactive, enlightening and fortifying experience for the Belmont community.
  • 10 a.m. Jan. 24 – University Chapel lecture on “Faith, Racial Reconciliation and the Color Line” by Dr. Renita Weems in Neely Dining Hall. Weems is provost of American Baptist College and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • 10 a.m.  Jan. 27Campus Dialogue on Diversity, Race and Ethnicity in Neely Dining Hall. 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.
  • 10 a.m. Jan. 29 – University Chapel lecture “21st Century Leadership and the Color Line” by Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner in Neely Dining Hall. Williams-Skinner is president of the Skinner Leadership Institute and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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About Belmont University

Ranked No. 7 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the sixth consecutive year as one of the top “Up-and-Comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of more than 6,900 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs, a fact made evident in the University’s hometown, Nashville, where students, faculty and staff served more than 243,000 hours of community service (valued at more than $5 million) during 2012. With more than 80 areas of undergraduate study, 22 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon.
For more information visit www.belmont.edu