Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations Culminate in 'Day of Learning' at Denison
Posted: January 15, 2004
GRANVILLE -- A series of events leading up to the Jan. 26 "A Day of Learning" is planned for the Denison University community to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The holiday -- generally being observed on Monday (Jan. 19) -- coincides with the first day of classes for the spring semester and therefore will be celebrated throughout the week at Denison with a poetry slam on Thursday (Jan. 22), a Sunday evening (Jan. 25) chapel program featuring an associate dean of religious life from Princeton University and Denison's Gospel Choir, and the Monday (Jan. 26) Day of Learning -- all under the theme of "The Beloved Community: Lift Every Voice."
The planning committee chose the theme "The Beloved Community" from a concept developed by King and "Lift Every Voice" from a 1921 poem by James Weldon Johnson that is commonly known as the "Black National Anthem." The Beloved Community vision by King calls for a world where "all people can share in the wealth of the earth" and "poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated."
The first of the Denison MLK activities will be a poetry slam at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 22) in Slayter Union. Organized by Oliver Rollinson, a junior from Cincinnati, numerous student organizations will be participating, including: Amnesty International, Black Student Union, Campus Crusade for Christ, Denison Students for the Unborn, LaFuerza Latina, Native American Association, Newman Association, Outlook, Presbyterians @ Denison, Students for a Free Tibet, Students 4 Choice, and Women's Emphasis.
Denison's Gospel Choir
The chapel program at 8 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 25) in Swasey Chapel is open to the public and will be led by the Rev. Dr. Mark Orten, Denison's new director of religious life and chaplain. Featured speaker will be Orten's former Princeton colleague, the Rev. Deborah Blanks, an associate dean of the chapel there. She has served as a United States Navy chaplain for 10 years and also has served at Brown University. Blanks earned her bachelor's degree at Rutgers University, Douglass College, and her master of divinity degree at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. She earned a master of theology degree at Princeton Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Raymond Wise will direct the Denison Gospel Choir in special music for the service which will close with a candle-lighting ceremony.
The "Day of Learning," which is planned for Monday (Jan. 26), includes an all-campus/community luncheon at the Mitchell Center and a welcome by President Dale T. Knobel. The planning committee, under the leadership of Vincent Briley, Denison's new director of multicultural student affairs, and Associate Professor of English Linda Krumholz, has planned a day combining musical and dramatic performances by students.
Among those participating will be the women's a cappella group, Ladies' Night Out, the Jared Thompson Jazz Trio, senior Andy Juechter (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.) on African drums, and several students participating in dramatic readings recreating the civil rights movement in "From Montgomery to Memphis: The Civil Rights Movement in Many Voices." Krumholz and faculty colleagues Herman Graham (history), Jeff Kurtz (communication) and Anita Waters (sociology) created this original script.
Film and television actress Tonea Stewart, who is also a faculty member in the theatre department at Alabama State University, will make the keynote address following the student performances. She will be introduced by Denison senior Noelle Warford (Plain City, Ohio).
Stewart, best known for her recurring role of Aunt Etta Kibbe in the television series "In the Heat of the Night," was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the Florida State University School of Theatre and the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. She won a NAACP Image Award nomination in 1997 as best supporting actress. Stewart hosted a historical radio series produced by the Smithsonian Institution and the Institute of Language and Culture, "Remembering Slavery," which was a first-person account of former slaves who survived to tell their stories. She won the New York Festivals World Radio Competition Gold Medal Award for her narration and the series also won a second place medal for best historical documentary. It was broadcast on Public Radio International stations and was also the subject of an ABC "Nightline" cover story. Stewart has appeared in "Mama Flora's Family" with Cicely Tyson and "Gramps" with Andy Griffith, as well as in touring productions of "A Member of the Wedding" and "A Raisin in the Sun."
Students from the third and fourth grades at Conrad Elementary School are working with Denison students from a Drawing 1 Foundation class taught by Associate Professor Ron Abram and an art history course taught by Associate Professor Karl Sandin to create six large canvasses which will be displayed at the luncheon. The works will combine drawing, painting, photographic collage and text, and imagery from the six works also will be printed and used as place mats for the approximately 1,000 luncheon guests. The hand-made quilt which was created by students, faculty and staff members last year for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration will be displayed at the Mitchell Center before returning to its usual display site in the lobby of Denison's Doane Library.
More than 45 Denison groups and individuals contributed handmade squares to the colorful Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Quilt unveiled during Denison's 2003 celebration of King's birthday.
For press inquiries:
- Barbara Stambaugh
- Position Title
- Director, Media Relations
- Primary Email
- Business Phone
- (740) 587-8575