Middlebury

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

January 5, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury College will join the rest of the nation this month to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with several events, including a concert and a talk on Jan. 16, that will evoke the enduring spirit of the civil rights leader. All events are free and open to the public.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, a tribute to King, titled "Remembrance and Reflection," will take place in Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125). The program will feature guest speaker and Middlebury College trustee Michael C. Obel-Omia, a 1988 graduate of the college, whose talk is titled "To Lead Them Higher: The Challenge of Martin Luther King's Legacy." Other highlights include remarks by Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, a 1972 Middlebury graduate; excerpts from King's speeches read by Middlebury College students; and a musical tribute from Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist-in-Residence François Clemmons, who will sing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." Clemmons will also direct several choral selections. Immediately following the event, there will be a breakfast reception in Proctor Dining Hall directly across Hepburn Road.
 
On Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m., "Let Freedom Sing! A Celebration of the American Negro Spiritual and the Life and Words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." will take place. The program will combine a dramatic oration of King's speeches by New York-based actor Esau Pritchett with choir music directed by Clemmons, who will also perform solos. The choir, whose more than 80 members are local residents as well as Middlebury College faculty, staff and students, will perform music that includes authentic American Negro spirituals popular during the civil rights movement in America. The event will include a tribute to the late Rosa Parks, one of the movement's leading figures. 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 Montpelier-based 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 theater credits, including an appearance in an episode of 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 both effective and moving. "To hear King's words spoken from the pulpit, framed in the musical world from which they come, is truly inspirational," said Kiernan.

From Jan. 13-20, there will also be a display of books related to King in the lobby of the Middlebury College Library on Storrs Avenue between College Street (Route 125) and South Main Street (Route 30).

For more information, contact Jennifer Herrera in the Middlebury College Office for Institutional Diversity at 802-443-5743.

To follow are events calendar listings:

Middlebury College Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Friday, Jan. 13-Friday, Jan. 20
Book Display: Display of books related to Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m. 
Friday, 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. 
Saturday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. 
Sunday, 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
Middlebury College Library Lobby, Storrs Avenue between College Street (Route 125) and South Main Street (Route 30)

Monday, Jan. 16
8 a.m.  "Remembrance and Reflection"

A tribute to King will feature guest speaker and Middlebury College trustee Michael C. Obel-Omia, a 1988 graduate of the college, whose talk is titled "To Lead Them Higher: The Challenge of Martin Luther King's Legacy." There will also be remarks by Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas; excerpts from King's speeches read by Middlebury College students; and a musical tribute from Middlebury College Alexander Twilight Artist-in-Residence François Clemmons, who will also direct choir music. Immediately following the event, there will be a breakfast reception.
Tribute: Mead Chapel, Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125)
Breakfast: Proctor Dining Hall directly across from Mead Chapel, Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125)

7 p.m.  Concert/Dramatic Readings: "Let Freedom Sing! A Celebration of the American Negro Spiritual and the Life and Words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."  The program, which is directed and adapted by Mike Kiernan, will combine a dramatic oration of 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, performed by a more than 80-member community choir of local residents and Middlebury College faculty, staff and students, will include authentic American Negro spirituals popular during the civil rights movement in America.
Mead Chapel, Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125)

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jennifer Herrera in the Middlebury College Office for Institutional Diversity at 802-443-5743.