Emory Report
January 18, 2005
Volume 58, Number 15


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January 18, 2005
Reagon to keynote 2005 King Week celebration

BY katherine baust

Multitalented singer, composer, cultural historian and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the Grammy-winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock and curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, will be the keynote speaker for Emory’s 21st annual King Week celebration. She will present “Over My Head, I Hear Music in the Air: In Song and in the Struggle,” Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Cannon Chapel.

“The life of Dr. King and his work transcends time,” said Cynthia Shaw, King Week chair and director of the Office of Student Development. “He is as relevant today as he was 20 years ago. Until his hopes and dreams become reality, his legacy should be recognized every year. It is important to remind ourselves of that—this community and world.”

Shaw said Emory’s King Week celebration is among the largest of its kind, noting that most other universities may only hold a service or celebrate just a day or two.

“The King Week committee tries to bring to the Emory community not just what King did but who he was and what he enjoyed as a way to celebrate the many facets of his life,” she said. Shaw had met King’s father (whom she affectionately calls “Daddy King”) through her membership to Ebenezer Baptist Church, King’s home congregation.

Martin Luther King Sr. told Shaw how much his son loved dance, gospel music and service, so it seemed appropriate to her to include these types of events in King Week. Another example of how different facets of King’s life and personality have been incorporated into King Week is the popular service project the committee coordinated with Trees Atlanta, the Caucus of Black Emory Alumni and Volunteer Emory, to beautify the MLK historic district by planting trees. The inspiration was King’s answer to the question of what he would leave behind as a living legacy. He replied that he would plant a tree.

Other popular, annual events taking place during King Week include a jazz vespers service at Cannon Chapel and a student tribute to King in song, dance and spoken word.

Shaw noted the listening project, “Words of Peace,” a new addition to last year’s schedule, will be incorporated again this year. Writings and speeches of human rights activists from various countries are read in the original languages and with English translations by the faculty and students affiliated with Emory’s language departments.

Another noteworthy event, Shaw said, is the exhibit “Music of Social Change,” curated by graduate student Katherine Skinner. This exhibition uses images and sounds from the 1940s to the 1970s to investigate ways that music affiliated with the freedom struggle grew up within and helped shape the movement, illustrating how African American music became deeply intertwined with the political movement.

For a complete listing of King Week events go to: www.sph.emory.edu/AWARDS/kingweek.html.