Berea College and Community to Celebrate MLK Day with Convocation and Events

Campus members holding sign for MLK Day march

Community (Berea and campus) members begin to march from Union Church to Presser Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018.
(Photo: Crystal Wylie ’05)

Berea College staff, faculty and students have organized a series of events in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. The centerpiece event is a convocation featuring Zeb Harrison & The Sounds of Praise. The annual MLK Day activities are co-sponsored by Office of the President, Berea College Music Program, Black Cultural Center, Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS), Berea College Music Program, First Christian Church, Union Church, and Willis D. Weatherford Jr. Campus Christian Center.

Activities begin with representatives from the College and the Berea community gathering at 10 a.m. at Union Church, with spirituals performed by the Black Music Ensemble and community. Following remarks from Rev. Kent Gilbert (lead pastor, Union Church), Mayor Bruce Fraley (City of Berea) and President Lyle Roelofs (Berea College), a Celebration of Life in Seven Parts will begin with presentations by the Campus Christian Center, Black Cultural Center and Center for Excellence in Learning through Service focusing on King as a man of faith, a champion of human rights and as an advocate for service, respectively.

At 10:35 a.m. members of the College’s Black Music Ensemble will lead a march from Union Church to First Christian Church, where participants will be greeted by reverends Lisa and Mark Caldwell-Reiss and enjoy light refreshments and musical selections by the Black Music Ensemble.

Beginning at 11:15 a.m., presentations by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for International Education, and the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education will focus on King as a voice for the poor, renowned educator, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and an agent of social change. A break at the conclusion of these presentations will allow time for lunch at the Berea College cafeteria in the Alumni Building.

A convocation at 3 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel will feature Zeb Harrison and Sounds of Praise performing “What Real Horns Are Made Of.” The group’s usual instrumentation includes two percussion, sousaphone, baritone horn, keyboard, five to seven trombones and a Hawaiian steel guitar that provides an exotic flavor to the brass instruments. Some of the band’s members have performed together for more than 25 years, often alongside renowned performers such as Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Pastor Shirley Caesar, James Cleveland, Pastor John P. Kee, the Gospel Keynotes, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Angela Wynbush, Bobby Brown and Walter Hawkins.

Zeb Harrison and Sounds of Praise have performed throughout the continental United States in churches and other venues including the Civic Center and Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia; the Civic Center, Cricket Arena, Park Center, and Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Smithsonian Institute and the Masonic Hall in Washington, DC; the Civic Center in Durham, North Carolina; University of South Carolina (Columbia); Winston Salem State University, North Carolina and at the University of Kentucky in Lexington for the Martin Luther King Celebration.

Convocation events are provided free to both the campus and public communities and are a significant part of a student’s educational experience at Berea College. View the full schedule of all convocations this academic year.

Following the convocation there will be a reception and conversation with Zeb Harrison and other members of Sounds of Praise at 4:30 p.m. in the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education in the Alumni Building.

Those who are unable to attend the march from Union Church to First Christian Church in person are welcome to join us via the Berea College Facebook page.

Categories: News, Places, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Carter G. Woodson Center, Center for International Education, Center for Teaching and Learning, Convocation, Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation, Union Church

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.