Bereans Observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The frigid morning temperatures did not deter Berea College students, faculty and members of the wider Berea community from the annual commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Braving the cold air, the crowd marched from Union Church to Presser Hall on Chestnut Street.

MLK Day March in Berea KY

There, in Gray Auditorium, Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye, a virtuoso singer, actress and performing artist, presented the Fannie Lou Hamer Story: A One-Woman Play featuring songs and stories portraying the life-struggles and accomplishments of Mississippi-born Hamer. Known for her oft-quoted remark, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer was a force in the civil rights movement, particularly encouraging African-Americans to register to vote.

MLK Day Speaker

Lateefah Simon speaks on Martin Luther King Day in Berea, KY

At 3:00 p.m., students gathered in Phelps Stokes Chapel for a convocation featuring Lateefah Simon, whose topic was “Changing the Future.” Following her remarks, which focused on themes of hope to those struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination, Simon met students and faculty at a Speaker Reception at the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, located in the Alumni Building.

The day’s events were presented by the Woodson Center and co-sponsored with the following Berea College and community organizations: Office of the President, Black Cultural Center, Berea College Music Program, Berea College Theatre Program, Information Systems and Services, Union Church, Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service and the Willis D. Weatherford, Jr., Campus Christian Center.

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Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come 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, earning 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.