Kent celebrates Dr. King’s message

Drew Parker

Kent State University will host a cultural celebration of word, music and dance Thursday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

The celebration, themed “Empowering the Individual, Strengthening the Community”, will be from 1:00 pm to 1:45 p.m. in the Kiva, followed by a presentation of Trailblazer Awards for the promotion of diversity and a keynote speech by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill at 2:10 p.m.

Hill, an associate professor of English education and anthropology at Columbia Univeristy, is known for his perspectives on sexuality to education, religion and hip-hop culture and has been featured on NPR, in The Washington Post, Essence, The New York Times and Fox News.

A signing of his book, “Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity,” and reception will be held at 4 p.m. on the ballroom balcony. Hill’s book is now available for purchase at the Kent State University Bookstore.

Dr. Geraldine Hayes-Nelson, executive director of Diversity Programming and Community Outreach, said what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for was in line with Kent State’s “You belong here” slogan.

“We all make up the fabric of Kent State University,” Hayes-Nelson said. “We want an environment where everyone is welcomed, valued and respected.”

Hayes-Nelson said she believes in celebrating King’s life because he made a global impact with the civil rights movement.

“He called America into consciousness about basic human rights and inclusion,” Hayes-Nelson said. “Because we offer a liberal arts education at Kent State, we embrace and celebrate the differences that make the university what it is.”

“I really wanted to be apart of the whole celebration,” said Michaela Write, junior public relations major. “To me, it’s remembering Dr. King’s journey and vision for his country and people, and celebrating diversity, not just racial diversity, but culturally. Just people as individuals coming together.”

Write will be singing “Four Women” by Nina Simone at the celebration. The groups Voices of Testimony and Culture Shock will also be among the performances.

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].

Candice Dungan contributed to reporting.