On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King with the 45th Annual MLK Celebration.
Through peaceful protest, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. spent his life as a social activist working against injustice. Dr. King worked to end the legal segregation of African Americans, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his life had a profound impact on race relations in the United States.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” MLK
This year’s speaker, Dr. Angela Davis – American political activist, academic scholar, and author – spoke to a full house at Mershon Auditorium. Dr. Davis emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party USA and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
Larry Williamson, director of the Hale Center, welcomed nearly 2400 attendees to the event. The audience then heard the African American Voice Gospel Choir sing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Tributes to Dr. King and Dr. Davis were given by Professor Sharon Davies, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, and Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, Vice President for Student Life, before India Brown, award-winning spoken word artist, performed a piece that incorporated both poetry and singing.
The presentation of the 2017 MLK Memorial Scholarships brought forth a class of remarkable undergraduates whose careers includes providing leadership and service to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the university community. Established in 1970, 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 Zoe Cook, Geoffrey Green, Michael Inman, Morgan Morrison, Erin Myers, and DeMario Webb.
The 2017 MLK Dreamer Award was presented to Michelle Alexander, a civil right lawyer and professor in the Moritz College of Law. Professor Alexander is the author of the best-selling and award-winning book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
After another musical selection from the African American Voices Gospel Choir, Dr. Maurice Stevens, associate professor in the Department of Comparative Studies, introduced the keynote speaker. Dr. Davis brought a message that focused on the injustices addressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Being militant, Dr. Davis stated, means to be “persistent and demanding” and that it is possible to be militantly non-violent. She also reminded attendees of the “long reach of the work” that is being done, that agents of change need to look less for immediate results and more toward lasting transformation.
The 2017 MLK Celebration was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, and supported by the Black History Month sponsors: Office of Student Life, the Student Life Multicultural Center, and the Department of African American and African Studies.
Each January, the Hale Center offers a series of events to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to an evening celebration with a featured speaker, students and faculty come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through other community service events.