‘Let Freedom Ring’ celebration kicks off this morning in Kiva

Michael C. Lewis

The third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, “Let Freedom Ring,” will begin at 8:30 a.m. today in the Kiva.

Festivities will include a community celebration, an educational program and performing arts concerts. All students are invited to attend and faculty members are welcome to take their classes to the celebration, according to Vice Provost Steven Michael.

“This celebration is the president’s vision,” Michael said. “Knowledge is not only confined to the classroom. This celebration provides excitement and learning.”

“Students are being prepared for the future ahead of them. That future is based on today, but today is based on history,” Michael said. “Students that lack the knowledge of history have the potential to repeat it.”

The program will kick off at 1 p.m. when keynote speaker the Rev. Aaron Wheeler, Sr., chairman of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, takes the stage. Following the Rev. Wheeler, there will be a recitation of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and a panel presentation “Is Freedom in Peril?” starting at 2:15 p.m. and runs to 4 p.m.

The panel, moderated by President Carol A. Cartwright, includes Sen. Eric Fingerhut, Representative John Hagan, Attorney Leigh Herington and Representative Kathleen Chandler.

Some of the topics of discussion include issues related to the War on Terrorism, heightened security measures, civil liberties, the USA PATRIOT Act, the November election and the role of values in society. Students and faculty who attend are also welcome to help set the agenda of discussion.

“There is an important legacy of the celebration of Dr. King — a wonderful life and extraordinary person,” Cartwright said. “The notion of being free comes directly from him.”

“In the wisdom of President Cartwright, it is important for an educational institution like Kent State to reinforce this message annually in the minds of the students and faculty. It is a Kent State program, but it is very heavily involved with the community,” Michael said.

The community celebration in the morning includes student competitions from area high schools in which students are judged and win awards poetry, essay and art categories. Heartbeat to the City-Praise Dancers will take the stage just before lunch.

The evening celebration program includes performances from local area churches as well as the Kent State Jazz Ensemble. The program ends at 8 p.m.

Admission is free and refreshments will be provided at certain times.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Michael C. Lewis at [email protected]