Concert at the University honors Martin Luther King Jr.

A former School of Music professor founded the concert to celebrate King.

by Liala Helal

Someday, there will be no segregation, no discrimination and only complete integration, musical group the Sounds of Blackness sang Sunday, filling Ted Mann Concert Hall with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 24th annual “Music for Martin,” a free concert to honor King’s life, had every seat in the concert hall filled as people gathered to listen to songs and excerpts from King’s speeches, read by actor T. Mychael Rambo.

“I thought it was a great portrayal of where we need to be again,” said Janet Anderl, a concert attendee. She said it encouraged people to be proactive and reach for freedom, faith and understanding differences.

“We need to reach for love and faith deep within ourselves, and finding the courage to start making movements at a time that is very scary in the world,” Anderl said.

She said she wanted to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and found the concert to be an “uplifting and very fitting way to do so.”

“I wish everyone could have seen it and been here,” she said.

The concert was co-produced by the University’s Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs and the College of Continuing Education, with additional support from the Law School, College of Liberal Arts and General College.

The late Reginald T. Buckner, a former professor at the School of Music, founded the annual concert as a tradition to celebrate King’s life through the performing arts.

This year’s main organizer, Sue Hancock, director of outreach and University relations at the Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs, said that because of financial reasons, the concert almost didn’t happen. Fortunately, she said, she was able to collaborate with the College of Continuing Education to make it happen.

“I consider it a signature event for the University,” Hancock said.

Every year, the concert has different performers spread King’s words, she said.

“At the time it was founded, it was the one and only event on campus to honor Martin Luther King Jr.,” Hancock said.

She said the University’s continuing honor of King’s legacy and its recognition of Buckner’s efforts is what makes the concert significant.

“It’s a concert to keep the message alive and helps children who are too young to know about the civil rights movement understand it, and also serves as a reminder that we still have a lot to work on,” she said. “It’s more than a concert – it’s a means of expressing what was, and still, what we can do.”

Shereen Sabet, an administrative assistant in the Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs, said the performance was “amazing, inspiring and a great collaboration of music and education” to bring out King’s message.

Chreese Jones, a University alumna and singer with three-time Grammy winners Sounds of Blackness, said singing at the event was enjoyable because she was able to share King’s historical message.

“It’s always nice to be able to share with the world the genre of music that evolved from African-American civil rights time to the modern day and let that message penetrate into the world – let the world know that it’s still alive,” she said.

She said she feels honored to be a part of it and that she is very serious about getting the message out.

“I want the world to be reminded of where that music came from,” she said.

The concert ended with a standing ovation by the audience.