In conjunction with the Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP, Marshall University will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 19, with various activities, including the MLK Jr. Traditional March.
Maurice Cooley, associate vice president of Intercultural Affairs, said his office and the NAACP are co-planning this year’s activities with the local community, churches, pastors, community leaders, and various other constituents in the area.
“We hope to have strong support from our Marshall family,” Cooley said. “Our goal at Marshall is to have 250 faculty, staff and/or students attending at least the traditional march and as many as possible to attend the unique observance day program at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, immediately following the march.”
When he moved into the position of associate vice president of Intercultural Affairs last year, one of the first things Cooley did was contact Sylvia Ridgeway, president of the local NAACP chapter, to express his desire to co-plan all future MLK Day events – including the traditional march – with the community each year.
“King’s principles are fully consistent with neighbors becoming brothers,” Cooley said. “King once said, ‘The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood.’ Consequently, this year we have had a great collaboration with the NAACP and we look forward to a great celebration on January 19th.”
The march will be led by Pastor Donte’ Jackson of First Baptist Church, other local ministers, the NAACP and Marshall University leaders. It starts at 4:30 p.m. at 16th Street Baptist Church, located at 1647 9th Ave., and ends at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, located across 5th Avenue from the Memorial Student Center.
A celebration will follow the march at 5:30 p.m. in the performing arts center. It will feature a performance by the Marshall University Chamber Choir; original poetry readings by Tim Meadows, a performance by the Jehovah’s Warriors Praise-Dance Team, and a rendition of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by Lynn Edwards.
Gary White, Marshall University’s interim president, will speak during the celebration, as will Ridgeway. The Huntington High School Chamber Choir also will perform.
“We want to demonstrate our support for community integration and inclusion, while continuing to raise awareness of Dr. King’s contributions,” Cooley said. “This is the time and a most worthy occasion to show our support for social justice in memory of Dr. King. We want everyone to pour out their support for this historical occasion in recognition of the social unrest in our country, even today.”
A light reception will follow the celebration in the performing arts center.