Middlebury

Middlebury College celebrates the life of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 8, 2004

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College will join the rest of the nation this month to  honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a series of events and activities that will evoke the enduring spirit of the civil rights leader.  Activities, including a concert, prayer breakfast and panel discussion, will begin Friday, Jan. 16, and continue through Jan. 23.  All events are free and open to the public.

On Friday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m., "Let Freedom Sing!  A Celebration of the American Negro Spiritual and the Words of Martin Luther King Jr." will take place.  The program will combine a dramatic oration of Dr. King's speeches by New York-based actor Esau Pritchett with choir music directed by Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist-In-Residence François Clemmons, who will also perform solos.  The music will include authentic American Negro spirituals and gospel favorites.  The concert will take place in Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125).

A versatile performer, Clemmons is the founder of the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble, and the creator of the role of the friendly police officer, Officer Clemmons, on the Emmy Award-winning television show, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."  Clemmons is currently teaching a winter term course at Middlebury titled "The History of the American Negro Spiritual and Its Influence on Western Civilization." 

Vermont audiences saw Pritchett as the title character in Lost Nation Theatre's production of "Othello," and as Tom Robinson in the Vermont Stage Company's "To Kill a Mockingbird."  He has extensive television, film and theatre credits, including an upcoming role in the television series "Law and Order."

Dr. Mike Kiernan, a lifelong admirer of King and a Middlebury physician, adapted King's speeches to retrace the civil rights leader's journey from Montgomery to Memphis.  Kiernan thought the combination of Clemmons' music and King's words would be effective.  "To hear King's words spoken from the pulpit, framed in the musical world from which they come?it is truly inspirational," said Kiernan.

From Friday, Jan. 16-Friday, Jan. 23, there will also be a display of books related to King in the lobby of Starr Library on Old Chapel Road off South Main Street (Route 30).

From 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, the sixth annual prayer breakfast will take place in Ross Commons Dining Hall on College Street (Route 125).  The program will include an invocation from Middlebury College Chaplain Laurel Jordan and a benediction from Middlebury College Associate Chaplain and Rabbi Ira Schiffer; student readings; and brief remarks on the King legacy by Middlebury College Instructor in Sociology and Anthropology Hilda Llorens.  As part of the program, Clemmons will sing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."  He will also direct choir music in a tribute to King.

The complementary hot breakfast will be served from 8-8:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the dining hall.  Because seating is limited, breakfast will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

Following the prayer breakfast, Clemmons, accompanied by pianist George Matthews, will give a short, informal concert in the adjacent Ross Fireside Lounge, where he will encourage participation from the audience.

On Thursday, Jan. 22, at 4:30 p.m. a panel discussion, titled "W. E. B. Du Bois: In Celebration of the 100-Year Anniversary of 'The Souls of Black Folk'" will take place in the Robert A. Jones House conference room on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125).  Middlebury College professors will serve as panelists and will discuss Du Bois' impact on the novel, history and economics. Panelists include Associate Professor of American Literature and Civilization Will Nash, Professor of History Jim Ralph, and Associate Professor of Economics Bob Prasch.  Following the discussion, participants will invite questions and comments from the audience.  Associate Professor of History William Hart will serve as moderator.

For more information, contact Jessa Karki in the Middlebury College Office for Institutional Diversity at 802-443-5615.

To follow are events calendar listings.

Middlebury College Events in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Friday, Jan. 16-Friday, Jan. 23

Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-1 a.m. 

Fri., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. 

Sat., 9 a.m.-11 p.m.  (Route 30)

Sun., 9 a.m.-1 a.m.

Book Display: Display of books related to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Starr Library Lobby, Old Chapel Road off South Main Street

 

Friday, Jan. 16

7:30 p.m.   Concert/Dramatic Readings: "Let Freedom Sing!  A Celebration of the American Negro Spiritual and the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King."  The program will combine a dramatic oration of Dr. King's speeches by New York-based actor Esau Prittchet with choir music directed by Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist-In-Residence François Clemmons, who will also perform solos.  The music will include authentic American Negro spirituals and gospel favorites. Excerpts of King's speeches adapted for oration by Mike Kiernan. 

Mead Chapel, Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125)

 

Monday, Jan. 19

8-9:30 a.m.  Sixth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast: Hot breakfast available 8-8:30 a.m.  Program takes place 8:30-9:30 a.m. Middlebury College Instructor in Sociology and Anthropology Hilda Llorens will give brief remarks on the King legacy, and there will be choir music directed by Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist-In-Residence François Clemmons.  Following breakfast, Clemmons, accompanied by pianist George Matthews, will perform a brief selection of spirituals in the adjacent Ross Fireplace Lounge in an informal concert where audience participation will be encouraged.

Ross Commons Dining Hall, College Street (Route 125)

 

Thursday, January 22

4:30 p.m.  Panel Discussion: "W. E. B. Du Bois: In Celebration of the 100-Year Anniversary of 'The Souls of Black Folk.'"  A panel of Middlebury College professors will discuss Du Bois' impact on the novel, history and economics. Panelists include Associate Professor of American Literature and Civilization Will Nash, Professor of History Jim Ralph, and Associate Professor of Economics Bob Prasch.  Following the panel discussion, participants will invite questions and comments from the audience.  Associate Professor of History William Hart will serve as moderator.

Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

 

All events are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Jessa Karki in the Middlebury College Office for Institutional Diversity at 802-443-5615.

 

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