2014 MLK Celebration
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the last 42 years, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s celebration began on January 16, 2014 with a screening of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity film, “A Reading of the Letter from Birmingham Jail” at Weigel Hall Auditorium. The film commemorates Dr. King’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written on April 16, 1963, which defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance when faced with racial discrimination. The letter was read by community leaders from Columbus as well as educators and leaders from The Ohio State University, including the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Vice Provost Valerie Lee, Associate Provost James Moore, and Larry Williamson, Director of the Hale Center.
The night’s programming continued with the joyous singing of the African-American Voices at The Ohio State University who performed “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and other musical selections. Tributes to Nelson Mandela were given by Professor Elaine Richardson, from the Department of Teaching and Learning, who sang “Change is Gonna Come,” and by Vice Provost Lee, who spoke about her experiences in South Africa in the days following Mandela’s death.
One of the highlights of the evening was the recognition of the MLK Memorial Scholarship awardees. Established in 1970 by the Pinedale-Rochdale Student Fund, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Scholarship is a full merit-based scholarship awarded to students who are junior rank or above with preference given to African-American students. Now funded by Ohio State’s Campus Campaign, the scholarship is given to at least four students each year. This year’s awardees are: Jordyn Brewton, Alexandra Claytor, Devin Oliver, and Tiara Washington.
The evening culminated with a talk by Donna Brazile, a veteran Democratic political strategist, adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, and television political commentator. Ms. Brazile worked on the campaign to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday, helping to collect seven million signatures; the bill was passed in November 1983. Ms. Brazile’s talk focused on some of the changes that have come about because of Dr. King’s vision of equality: the first Black President and the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Ms. Brazile stated that to keep the momentum going forward, in addition to discussing problems and issues, there must also be action and coalition-building. After Ms. Brazile finished her talk, she was conferred the Kente Award by Larry Williamson and Valerie Lee, a long-standing tradition for the Hale Center.
Other MLK events on January 20, 2014 included the Annual Day of Service and the MLK Student March. Ohio State’s Pay It Forward partnered with the Hale Center to bring together approximately 800 students who provided 2,000 volunteer hours for the MLK Day of Service, volunteering to work with youths, literacy education, and serving meals. For the three-mile MLK Student March to Columbus City Hall, 50 Ohio State students met at Hale Hall and braved the cold weather, joining with over 400 others to walk to Veterans Memorial.
If you would like to contribute to the MLK Memorial Scholarship, please click here.
Photo by Ira Graham III.