VSU Expands MLK Celebration

January 2, 2011

VSU Expands MLK Celebration



VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University’s Office of Social Equity will host “A Dream Continues” -- a series of events to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The weeklong celebration will include a variety of events that recognize the historical significance of the Atlanta-born civil rights leader.

The 2011 program has been expanded to include programs that will be of interest to people of all ages and backgrounds.
“The committee wanted to develop activities that would engage and inform a broader slice of the campus community,” said Maggie Viverette, director of VSU’s Office of Social Equity. “The expanded activities allow the university to communicate to our students and surrounding community the importance of preserving Dr. King’s legacy of equality, which benefits each of us regardless of race, creed or gender, especially in the areas of employment, social justice and education.”

Viverette encourages students, faculty and staff, along with members of the community to attend the events and gain a true sense of King’s contributions to America’s struggle for equality within a democracy.
“The Office of Social Equity is privileged to offer this great American historical experience and honored that it has become an annual tradition for members of the surrounding community,” Viverette said.

The celebration begins on Tuesday, Jan. 11, with a panel discussion focusing on the book “To See the Promised Land: The Faith Pilgrimage of Martin Luther King Jr.,” written by Dr. Fredrick L. Downing, head of VSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Downing lead a panel discussion based on his work,” Viverette said. “The focus of the book is the transformative way that Dr. King used his passion for religion to serve as a framework for social justice, a cause that he felt most passionately about.”

On Thursday, Jan. 13, Valdosta State welcomes Pearl Cleage, a best-selling novelist whose first novel “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” was listed as an Oprah Book Club pick. Subsequent novels have gained Cleage national attention, including her second novel “I Wish I had a Red Dress,” which won multiple book club awards in 2001. In 2003, Good Morning America selected “Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do” as a book club favorite. Her most recent novel, “Baby Brother’s Blues” was the first pick of the new Essence Book Club and received a NAACP Image award for fiction in 2007. Cleage is also an award- winning playwright whose “Flyin’ West” production was the most produced new play in the country in 1994. Her recent play, “A Song for Coretta” was sold out during its performances in Atlanta in 2007.

The Atlanta native is a poet, essayist and journalist, Cleage’s work focuses on current social issues including AIDS and women’s rights.

On Friday, Jan. 14, the final event features legendary musician Peter Yarrow, who performed with Paul Stookey and the late Mary Travers -- the famous trio was simply known as Peter, Paul and Mary. Their music was regarded as an endearing anthem for the civil rights movement.

The group disbanded in 1970; however, they reunited several years later and continued to perform such legendary hits as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Yarrow has also enjoyed a successful career as a solo artist and devoted more than 40 years to equal rights issues, peace, the environment, gender equity, homelessness, hospice care and education.

Yarrow, along with Stookey and Travers, were actively involved in the civil rights movement. In 1963, the three marched with King in Selma, Ala. and Washington, D.C. In 1969, they sang at the famous March on Washington, which Yarrow helped to organize.

Schedule of Events:
Jan. 11: Panel discussion and review of the book “To See the Promised Land: The Faith Pilgrimage of Martin Luther King Jr.” at 7 p.m. in the University Center Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

Jan. 13: Presentation by author and playwright Pearl Cleage and performance by the VSU Concert Choir at 7 p.m. in the University Center Magnolia Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Jan. 14: Concert featuring Peter Yarrow at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The concert is free of charge for students with valid VSU identification and $10 for children and adults. Tickets may be purchased at the Office of Social Equity, located at 1208 N. Patterson Street (Seago House).

For more information, call the Office of Social Equity at 229-333-5463.