The College commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday today with a series of activities and speakers scheduled in honor of the late civil rights leader.
College President James Freedman and James Crawford ’58, Pastor of the Old South Church in Boston, Mass., will speak at the opening ceremony at noon in 105 Dartmouth Hall.
Crawford “has a vast background working in civil rights,” Associate Dean of Freshmen Tony Tillman said. “I’m so excited he could be here.”
Tillman organized the day’s schedule with the help of several students and administrators.
“I tried to put together a blend of experiences … so students feel they’ve learned something new or different,” he said.
From 2 to 4 p.m., Chinosole, a visiting professor of African and Afro-American Studies, will show films from the “Eyes on the Prize” film series that chronicled the civil rights movement. The video presentation in 6 Silsby will feature segments about King.
From 4 to 5 p.m., the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a traditionally black fraternity, will lead an hour-long reflection on the legacy of King in the lounge of Cutter-Shabazz Hall. Brothers will present actual King speeches as well as interpretations of speeches.
King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.
From 5 to 6 p.m., John Epps, executive director of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., also a traditionally black fraternity, will speak in Cutter-Shabazz Hall.
Tillman said Epps’ speech is significant because historical chronicles of the civil rights movement rarely mention the large role that black Greek houses played.
Immediately following Epps speech, at 6 p.m., a candlelight march will begin at the Cutter-Shabazz Hall and proceed around the Green to Rollins Chapel.
A 7 p.m. service at Rollins Chapel will conclude the day’s events. It will include remarks from the Reverend Gwendolyn King, the College’s Christian Chaplain, Afro-American Society President Zola Mashariki ’94, Student Assembly President Nicole Artzer ’94 and Freedman; a musical performance by the Dartmouth Gospel Choir; and a keynote address from James Cone.
Cone is a distinguished theology professor at the Union Theological Seminary.
Tillman said Cone is “deeply intellectual in his thinking and a joy to listen to.”
An explanation of the holiday and schedule of events was included in a Jan. 10 letter to the College community from Freedman.
“I invite each of you to participate in these activities and to take the opportunity to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contribution to the worldwide appreciation of the power of nonviolence in addressing political, racial and economic injustice,” Freedman wrote.
King devoted his life to fighting for the rights of the poor, disadvantaged and racially oppressed. He was born on Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. and on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he was assisting striking sanitation workers.
His birthday was declared a federal holiday in 1983.
“He volunteered to do the things he did and as a result of this his death is so … symbolic of the times and it just kind of killed the momentum,” Tillman said.