Campus events planned for King’s birthday

Sarah Hallonquist

With the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death just around the corner, the University is in the midst of its own celebration honoring the legacy of the civil rights leader.
In reverence of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which became a federal holiday in 1983, campus festivities began Monday and will continue through Jan. 27. Eleven different University organizations and offices are sponsoring events this year. Videos, discussions, storytelling, an art exhibit and a concert make up a total of 17 scheduled events this month.
“We’ve just been very encouraged and pleased with the enthusiasm and level of participation this year,” said Nancy Barcelï, associate vice president for multicultural affairs. Her office is sponsoring six events, including the celebration’s centerpiece concert on Sunday.
The 3-year-old University Gospel Choir will perform, led by guest conductor Sanford Moore, who also directs the vocal jazz group Moore by Four. In addition, the Reginald Buckner Memorial Ensemble will play its 17th King concert.
Originally founded by the late music and African-American studies professor Reginald Buckner, the group holds an annual concert in King’s honor, which was once the only concert of its type in Minnesota.
Also on Sunday, three awards will be presented to University students and faculty members. The Multicultural Affairs Student Development Leadership Award will be given to Morris student Tinisha Davis for her efforts to increase diversity awareness on her campus.
Sunday marks the first presentation of the Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award to one University student and one faculty member. College of Biological Sciences professor Val Woodward and Cheryl Robertson, a Ph.D. student in the School of Nursing, will receive the award from Johnson, who is a former Board of Regents member and a pioneer of the University’s African-American studies department.
A video and discussion, “All God’s Children,” sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Office, will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. The Academy Award-nominated film focuses on African-Americans in the GLBT community and the history of the gay rights movement.
“The whole strategy that Martin Luther King used in the civil rights movement was one that the gay movement leaders adopted,” said Beth Zemsky, director of the GLBT programs office. She said the GLBT community is still fighting for federal civil rights. Only 11 states have gay rights included in their civil rights codes.
Other celebration highlights are a student art exhibition in Morrill Hall, a one-person play, “Dr. King’s Dream,” in the Fireplace Lounge in Coffman Memorial Union, and tonight’s Gophers women’s basketball game. Coach Cheryl Littlejohn has invited 300 junior and high school students to help cheer on the team against Ohio State.