The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 20, 2014

VIDEO: MLK Day a call to celebrate, a call to act

JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern State University on Monday will host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast to honor a great man who was dedicated to the ideas of unity, purpose and service.

We will gather to remember, celebrate and act to move our community and nation closer to the “beloved community” that Dr. King envisioned.

King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. His teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs — poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

Dr. King recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. Through his words and example, he challenged individuals to take action and lift up their neighbors and communities through service. This day of service is a way for us to act on the life and teachings of King.

In an interview with Ebony magazine, his widow, Coretta King, stated: “We have called for people to remember to celebrate, and most importantly to act — now we should ask people to commemorate his life with some form of service and give back to the community.”

For the first time in the 17 years that MSSU has been holding this event, the campus will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so the program is taking on a new approach.

Since the primary focus of the day has been to encourage individuals to serve their community, we will start the program with the annual breakfast on Monday, followed by a volunteer fair on Tuesday and wrap up with additional inspirational presentations on Wednesday. Our hope is that these events will inspire and encourage all of us to commit to serving our community.

During the breakfast we will hear an inspiring journey of one of our own in this area, Jerrod Hogan, who with several others helped in the rebuilding of Joplin after we were hit by the devastating 2011 tornado. His story and journey emulates the vision of King. The volunteer fair, to be held in Billingsly Student Center, will bring together more than 15 area nonprofit volunteer organizations, showcasing how they serve the community and provide the faculty, staff and students with an opportunity to find a place to serve.

We will wrap up the week with two of Dr. King’s inspirational speeches at 1 and 7 p.m. Wednesday in Corley Auditorium. They will be presented by Greenfair Moses III, the world’s foremost authority and purveyor of speeches and sermons of King.

Martin Luther King III remarked that Brother Moses’ voice was the closest to his father’s that he’d ever heard. Brother Moses was the first to portray King on Capitol Hill in the initial movement to make King’s birthday a national holiday. He was also the first to portray Dr. King before both houses of the Virginia Assembly in its first official recognition of his birthday. He has won numerous awards for his reenactments of King’s speeches and community service. Famous art critic Richard Coe called his performance “dazzling.” Brother Moses is a performer you’ll want to see.

It will be a moving and enlightening experience. The evening presentation will feature the MSSU Chamber Singers to set the mood for the presentation.

You won’t want to miss any of these events.

Faustina Abrahams is the MSSU advising coordinator and a member of the university’s Diversity Committee, which sponsors the MLK celebration.

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