21st annual Martin Luther King convocation, "A Call to Conscience," featuring Mary Frances Berry


Saint Michael's has expanded its 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation into a week-long series, Monday, Jan. 21 to Friday, Jan. 25, called "A Call to Conscience:  Martin Luther King and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights." The program is designed to heighten awareness of King's legacy, promote conversation about issues surrounding civil rights and racism, and involve the community in exploring the relevance of King's work in the present day. All events are free and open to the public.

The week's schedule

Monday, Jan. 21

mary frances berryThe Martin Luther King Convocation at 4:30 PM in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel with keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Frances Berry, speaking on "A Hopeful Time: The American Conscience and the 2012 Elections." Mary Frances Berry has been a Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania since 1987. She received her Ph.D. in history and her doctor of law degrees from the University of Michigan. She is the author of ten books including Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House, with Josh Gottheimer (2010), And Justice For All: The United States Commission On Civil Rights And the Struggle For Freedom in America (2009); and others. From 1980 to 2004, Dr. Berry was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and from 1993-2004 she was named to serve as Chair by President Clinton. She was also Provost of the University of Maryland and Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Renowned for her vision of social freedom and equality and for her wisdom and candor, Dr. Mary Frances Berry is a major figure in American public life.

Tuesday, Jan. 22

"A Call for Action: The Significance of the 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'" at 7 PM in the McCarthy Arts Center. Panelists include professors William Grover, Lorrie Smith, and Amy Werbel; moderated by Katherine Dungy.  Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham" remains central in the arena of Civil Rights and social justice around the world.

Wednesday, Jan. 23

Reflections on race: A student-led discussion on college activism and social justice at 5 PM in Cheray Science Hall room 101. Facilitated by MOVE (Saint Michael's community service program), the Center for Women and Gender, and student clubs.

Thursday, Jan 24

The film, "Red Tails": Story of the Tuskegee Airmen, at 7 PM in Cheray Science Hall room 111, introduced by Professor of History, Dr. Doug Slaybaugh. Overcoming segregation and prejudice, Tuskegee Airmen became one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen's achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. "Red Tails," a 2012 American war film produced by Lucas film and released by 20th Century Fox, portrays these airmen, finally called into duty in the air undaunted by the prospect of providing safe escort to bombers in broad daylight - a mission so dangerous that the RAF had refused it and the white fighter groups had sustained substantial losses. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies in a heroic endeavor to combat the enemy - and the discrimination that has kept them down for so long. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and others.

Friday, Jan. 25

The First Annual Spoken Word Competition at 7 PM in the McCarthy Arts Center. Hosted by accomplished poets: Daniel Custodio, Melanie Goodreaux '95, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Daniel José Custódio, an award-winning slam poet, author, and teacher, is one of the most recognizable names on the spoken word scene. Custodio’s poetry has been called "salvation, inspiration, truth, healing and weapon against the oppressors."

Melanie Maria Goodreaux, a Saint Michael's graduate, is a poet, playwright, actress, and director, who has performed her poetry, known for its musicality and original voice, at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Yale University, Sarah Lawrence, Wheaton and Saint Michael's College, and at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta.

Elizabeth Acevedo, the daughter of Dominican immigrants, born and raised in New York City, has been featured at Nuyorican Poetry Café, Bowery Poetry Club, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Javits Center, Lisner Auditorium and Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. She was an original cast member of the Latino Poets Society Spoken Word Tour in 2008.

An exhibit about the Society of St. Edmund and their Civil Rights work in Selma, AL will be on display in the lobby of Alliot Student Center all week.

Campus-wide sponsorship

The week of events is sponsored by Saint Michael's Martin Luther King Jr. Society, Student Life, Health Services, Multicultural Programming Committee, Student Activities, Athletic Department, VP for Student Affairs, Sodexho, Campus Ministry, Diversity Coalition, VP for Academic Affairs, designer Summer Drexel and the Martin Luther King Convocation Committee.

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