Berea College Celebrates the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Software expert James Rucker will present “The Color of Change: What the Efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Have Taught Us” during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Convocation on January 16 at 3 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Auditorium.

Rucker is co-founder and executive director of the Internet-based civil rights organization Color of Change, began in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to strengthen Black American’s political voice. Color Of Change has since taken up advocacy and electoral campaigns focused on a variety of issues.

Rucker also serves as co-director of Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL), which uses digital media and technology to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups. The CEL is dedicated to enabling new forms of civic participation, maximizing the impact and effectiveness of those forms of participation, and helping other organizations leverage media and technology to build and activate their constituencies.

Prior to starting Color Of Change, Rucker served as director of grassroots mobilization for MoveOn.org where he played a crucial role in the success of fundraising, and developing technology and campaign strategies. Rucker has also worked in the software industry in Silicon Valley where he co-founded and led Imana, Inc., an enterprise software company. Rucker is passionate about school reform and issues of equity, and serves on the boards of two area schools. He grew up in Seaside, California, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University.

This convocation is co-sponsored with the Black Cultural Center, African and African-American Studies, the Campus Christian Center and the Office of the President.

Other campus events on  celebrating Dr. King’s legacy include:

  • Celebration March at 10 a.m. Participants will march from the lawn of Union Church (across from Boone Tavern Hotel) to the First Christian Church in Berea.
  • “Why We March” at 10:45 a.m. at the First Christian Church in Berea. This program will focus on the importance of the march and continuing to advocate for justice and equality.
  • MLK Jr. Celebration Program Luncheon at noon in Berea College Dining Services. Lunch is free for faculty/staff, $3 for guests.

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, was founded in 1855 by the abolitionist John G. Fee, who believed in a school that would be an advocate of equality and excellence in education for men and women of all races. Berea was the only racially integrated college in Kentucky and in the South for nearly 40 years, until the Day Law in 1904 forced racial segregation by forbidding interracial education. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Day Law, Berea set aside funds to assist in the establishment of Lincoln Institute, a school located near Louisville, for black students. When the Day Law was amended in 1950 Berea reopened its doors to black students.

Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: CEL, Convocation, Day Law, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation

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 40 states and 70 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.