Goshen College celebrates the life and ideas of Martin Luther King Jr. with local stories

GOSHEN, Ind. – Adam and Maggie Williams of Elkhart were subject to a cross burning at their Elkhart home in May 2008. Stacie Meyers-Ray is a former Osceola, Ind., resident whose neighborhood became home to a racial extremist compound.

These stories from local guests will be part of Goshen College’s 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day on Monday, Jan. 19 when classes are canceled and the campus celebrates and applies the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All of the day’s events are free, except the morning prayer breakfast, and open to the public.

“Dr. King was a great orator and charismatic leader who held a grassroots vision of community members organizing to combat racial and social inequalities,” said Odelet Nance, director of Goshen College’s Multicultural Affairs Office. “This year, we will recognize Dr. King’s dream by sharing the stories of contemporary, local community civil rights activists and their efforts. We will also acknowledge the historic inauguration of our first African-American U.S. president.”

The day will bring together many different local lecturers and performers to engage with King’s idea of “the dream,” including the Williams family and Meyers-Ray family. As well, Indiana University-South Bend (IUSB) professor and director of the IUSB Heritage Center Monica Tetzlaff will be on campus to discuss ways to take action toward fulfilling MLK’s dream. The Heritage Center uses the civil rights movement as living history to promote a better understanding of individual responsibility, race relations, social change and minority achievement.

And also on campus will be the Triple G Mime Group. Based out of South Bend, this nationally acclaimed performance art group tells stories through expressive movements and gospel music. Their Christian drama ministry illustrates a powerful, liberating message through pantomime.

Goshen College students will also perform throughout the day, including in the Voices-n-Harmony gospel choir.

“Martin Luther King is a poignant figure in our nation’s history. Due to our core values and mission, Goshen College is committed to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King by remembering his nonviolent teachings and the civil rights movement,” said Nance. “The national motto of the MLK Service day is, ‘a day on; not a day off,’ therefore, MLK Day has been designated as a time where Goshen College creatively offers structured programming to encourage continued action for racial and social justice. The overall goal of the day is to emphasize the values and ideas that characterized Dr. King’s work, to send a challenge to resist injustice and oppression in non-violent ways and espouse the belief that Dr. King’s dream is an attainable dream.”

The 2009 Goshen College Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day schedule:

7:30-8:30 a.m., “Awakening the Dream” MLK Prayer Breakfast, Church-Chapel Fellowship Hall. Registration: 7:15 a.m.; cost is $18 per guest or $144 for a table of eight. Reservations required.

9-9:45 a.m., “The Dream” Spoken Word Coffeehouse, Koinonia Room of Church-Chapel. Features GC Students in a program of poetry, readings, MLK speech recitations and storytelling.

9:50-11 a.m., Walking in the Legacy of “The Dream,” Church-Chapel. Voices-n-Harmony Gospel Choir, the IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center, the Triple G Mime Group and community guests Adam and Maggie Williams and Stacie Meyers-Ray come together to present a powerful drama presentation.

11 a.m.-12 p.m., “Living ‘The Dream’: Avenues of Action,” Fellowship Hall of Church-Chapel. A time for conversations with guest speakers to discuss ways to take action toward fulfilling MLK’s Dream.

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.

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Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S. News & World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu.

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