Jan. 15, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most urgent and persistent question is: What are you doing for others?"
Georgia State University students take King's call to action seriously. Rayna Plummer, for example, organized a group of GSU students to spend Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, helping the elderly with housework and making meals for the homeless.
"I feel it is part of my duty to give back and try to change those things we can change," said Plummer, a junior majoring in public relations. "We can't move forward without bringing everyone along."
Plummer is not alone in her desire to continue King's legacy. Throughout the week, Georgia State students, faculty and staff members, along with the community, will be holding events to celebrate King's work for social justice and promotion of human rights.
On Tuesday at 4 p.m., Georgia State will host the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation. The keynote speaker is L. Douglas Wilder, the first elected African-American governor in the United States. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the main ballroom of the Georgia State Student Center, located at the corner of Gilmer and Courtland streets.
Wilder will give a speech titled, "The Movement: Past, Present and Future."
A grandson of slaves, Wilder earned his B.A. in chemistry from Virginia Union University in 1951 and in 1952 was drafted into U.S. Army and sent to Korea, where he earned the Bronze Star. Following his military service, Wilder attended Howard University's School of Law, opened his law firm in 1961 and ran for the Virginia State Senate in 1969, becoming the first black to hold a position in nearly 100 years.
While in the Virginia State Legislature, Wilder fought to secure a state holiday for King's birthday, which succeeded in 1984. The following year he was elected the first lieutenant governor of Virginia, a position he served in for five years, before being elected Virginia's, and the nation's, the first black governor. In addition, Wilder played a major role in the development of The National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Va.
The theme of GSU's King Convocation is, "Imprint of the Dreamer: A Global Renewal." The event is sponsored by Georgia State's Office of the Dean of Students/Intercultural Relations and is supported by student activity fees.
"Dr. King left an impeccable imprint of social justice in creating a better world for all of us regardless of color, creed, economic status or religion," said Tonya Cook, program specialist in Intercultural Relations and chair of the GSU committee that organized the King week events. "It is important to remember his contribution to society and his sacrifice."
At convocation, the Torch of Peace award will be given to a Georgia State faculty, staff, undergraduate student, graduate student, alumni and student organization who have demonstrated an outstanding ability to promote positive intercultural relations. The Hosea Williams Award for Community Activism will also be presented to one unsung individual and organization for the promotion of human rights.
Georgia State will also honor King with events through Jan. 23.
The community is invited to learn about hunger, homelessness and poverty at the "Project Empty Bowls" program at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the Student Center's House/Senate Salons. Special guests from the Atlanta Community Food Bank will educate participants on hunger issues at this interactive forum.
Get a panoramic view of the diverse pathways of artists who fought through art to break down the barriers of racism through a photo exhibit by Doris Derby, director of the GSU Office of African-American Student Services and Programs. The exhibit, "Civil Rights: The Dialogue Continues through Documentary Photography," will open at 2 p.m. on Wednesday in the Student Center's Gallery Lounge on the third floor.
Bob Zellner, son and grandson of klansmen who become the first white southerner to serve as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, will give his perspective on the Civil Rights Movement from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday in the Student Center Speakers Auditorium. Zellner is the author of the book, "The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner on the Freedom Movement." His talk will be followed by a discussion on King's challenge for today's college students.
Free tours of the King Center, a nationally recognized historic site, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Shuttles depart on the top of each hour from the GSU Student Center. For more information, call 404-413-1580 For more information, visit: http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwicr/mlkConvocation.htm