Emory's King Week Committee has incorporated a number of new and different activities this year that will serve to honor and teach others about King, including a large and interactive service project to take place on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Jan. 15.
Emory's 12th annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Week will be held Jan. 15-21, featuring a variety of events commemorating the late civil rights leader. Cynthia Shaw, director of student development, explained that the King Week Committee, when putting together a series of events and offerings to the community, tries to "get people with some connection to the civil rights movement or connection with King's own personal background and childhood. Everything ties in to who he is as a person. That's the engine that drives what we do; we illuminate for the community the complexity and the simplicity of the man."
Shaw added that King Week attendance at events is "full and gets larger every year," and that the King Week Committee makes an effort to "construct a University-wide celebration. It's very inclusive to all members of the Emory community."
This year's community service project, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 15, will aid the Summerhill community in neighborhood cleanup and improvement projects under the guidance of the Summerhill community leadership. The event, designated by the King Federal Holiday Commission as one of 10 "service models" nationally, is sponsored by the Caucus of Emory Black Alumni and the Atlanta Club of the Association of Emory Alumni.
"Before last year we never scheduled anything on the holiday itself," Shaw said. "But now there's a national initiative for colleges and universities nationwide to do some sort of community service to honor King. When we heard about it, we organized a project collaborating with people from the Summerhill community on neighborhood cleanup." The service project will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
"If the project is successful, we'll definitely do it again," Shaw said. "Right now we have a lot of volunteers signed up."
Later during King Week, on Thursday, Jan. 18, the Emory community is invited to view a Violence Prevention Interactive Exhibit, where representatives from youth organizations working with violence prevention in the Atlanta area will share information about their work. The exhibit will take place from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Rita Ann Rollins Room in the School of Public Health.
Other major events during the week include "An Evening With Author/Historian Lerone Bennett" on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. in Glenn Memorial Auditorium. "This year we were looking to do something different with the keynote speaker," said Shaw. "In past years, we've had performers. This year, we wanted to have a speech or a talk, a conversation with the audience." Shaw hopes that Bennett, executive editor of Ebony magazine, will reminisce with the audience about his role in the civil rights movement. In addition to his position at Ebony, Bennett is also the author of many novels, including: Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America; What Manner of Men (a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.); and Wade in the Water.
Other noteworthy events, according to Shaw, will include music professor Dwight Andrews leading a Jazz Vespers Service at 6:30 p.m. in Cannon Chapel on Thursday, Jan. 18. Friday's events include a liberation ceremony, an African ritual intended to honor King, sponsored by the Brotherhood of Afrocentric Men, at 6 p.m. on Dobbs Hall lawn. An interfaith student coffee hour panel discussion on King's influence within the international community will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Winship Ballroom, Dobbs Center.
Other King Week events are listed on the calendar on page 8.