Martin Luther King III to appear at USF next week as part of MLK Jr. celebration

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This coming Monday is the national holiday that is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday that still is not observed by much of corporate America (my former employers at WMNF radio honor the day by giving employees the day off - alas, no such luck with our bosses at CL).

At the USF Tampa campus, there will be events honoring the civil rights legend taking place all week long, beginning on Saturday, January 15, and will commence with an appearance from King's son, Martin Luther King III at the end of the week.

Last August, when Glenn Beck was alienating lots of people by hosting his "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream" speech, MLK III penned an op-ed in the Washington Post where he wrote that he believed his father would have embraced Beck's event:

My father championed free speech. He would be the first to say that those participating in Beck's rally have the right to express their views. But his dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs. He envisioned a world where all people would recognize one another as sisters and brothers in the human family. Throughout his life he advocated compassion for the poor, nonviolence, respect for the dignity of all people and peace for humanity.

Although he was a profoundly religious man, my father did not claim to have an exclusionary "plan" that laid out God's word for only one group or ideology. He marched side by side with members of every religious faith. Like Abraham Lincoln, my father did not claim that God was on his side; he prayed humbly that he was on God's side.

He did, however, wholeheartedly embrace the "social gospel." His spiritual and intellectual mentors included the great theologians of the social gospel Walter Rauschenbush and Howard Thurman. He said that any religion that is not concerned about the poor and disadvantaged, "the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them[,] is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial." In his "Dream" speech, my father paraphrased the prophet Amos, saying, "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

The title of the 1963 demonstration, "The Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," reflected his belief that the right to sit at a lunch counter would be hollow if African Americans could not afford the meal. The need for jobs and shared economic prosperity remains as urgent and compelling as it was 47 years ago. My father's vision would include putting millions of unemployed Americans to work, rebuilding our tattered infrastructure and reforms to reduce pollution and better care for the environment.

The first event of MLK week will be the  Stampede of Service, which USF officials say introduces students to social issues and the importance of community service.    More than 3,000 student volunteers will scheduled meet the USF Soccer Stadium before moving on to approximately 60 Hillsborough County based organizations to engage in day-long service projects.

On Tuesday, January 18 there will be an MLK Dedication at the campus' MLK Plaza at high noon.  Later Tuesday afternoon the Centre Gallery in the Marshall Student Center and will host a photo exhibit that includes 48 unpublished photographs of Dr. King’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

On Wednesday evening, at the Centre Gallery in the Marshall Student Center there will be a showing of film, Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, beginning at 6 p.m.

And the week of events honoring Dr. King climaxes next Thursday night with an MLK Convocation with the aforementioned keynote speaker, Martin Luther King III at 7 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom.

All events are free and open to the public. For more intel, you can contact Renee Svec, director of communications and marketing, Division of Student Affairs (813)974-5383 or [email protected]

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