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Skidmore College

Celebrating a legend

January 17, 2013

Celebrating a legend

There will be several opportunities for members of the Skidmore community to celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the days ahead.

January 17, 2013

Monday, Jan. 21, is the federal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birth. In Saratoga Springs there will be a celebration titled “Empowering Our Spirits to Build Community” at the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church. The day will feature several components.

Community service will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local agencies will offer volunteers the opportunity to spend a few hours putting their hands to work painting, repairing, transporting, and other tasks. For more information or to register, please email or call 518-584-8730.

Local musicians and representatives of several organizations will participate in a program that starts at 2 p.m. The event will include music, readings from Dr. King’s speeches and writings, African-American singing games, poetry by high school students, and a film excerpt from last summer’s dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. Participants in the program will include musicians Peter Davis, Paul Rosenberg, and Skidmore alum Garland Nelson; the Rev. Eleanor Stanton of the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church; author Joe Bruchac; Supervisor Joanne Yepsen; and Saratoga Performing Youth Artists, directed by Lezlie Dana.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day planning committee this year is composed of representatives of the Saratoga County NAACP, the Saratoga Peace Alliance, the Saratoga Religious Society of Friends, Temple Sinai, Veterans for Peace, the Giving Circle, Skidmore College, and the League of Women Voters.

Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 22. “Martin Luther King Jr. Night” will take place from 8 to 10 p.m. Tuesday in Wilson Chapel. Highlights of the event will be music by Skidmore’s Drastic Measures, the New Jerusalem Chorus of Albany, the Thomas Family representing Albany’s Church of Jesus Christ, and the AGAPE Apostolic Church of Deliverance Praise and Worship Team of Troy. The program also will feature video clips.

Skidmore’s offices of Student Diversity Programs and Religious and Spiritual Life are sponsors of the program. Noting that the federal holiday coincides with the second inaugural of America’s first African-American president, Chrisman said, “What an appropriate happy birthday-thank you celebration of a religious revolutionary who led us to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both landmark laws were necessary not only for a fair society and fair elections but also for Barack Obama to have been elected (twice)!”

The program will highlight the religious roots of King’s leadership though its location in the recently refurbished Wilson Chapel and through the participation of music groups from the campus and the larger community. Film clips of King’s speeches and some modern musical renditions of famous Civil Rights-era songs will be screened during the evening.

The format is that of an open house, with people welcome to come and go between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Chrisman is excited to show off the renovated chapel, which has had new lighting, a video screen, and new heating installed, as well as a gender-neutral restroom.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the movie Prom Night in Mississippi will be screened at 6 p.m. in Filene Hall. Event sponsors are the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the Black Faculty and Staff Group.

This documentary tells the story of the senior prom in Charleston, Miss., population 2,100. The high school averaged 80 graduates per year and until 2008 hosted separate, segregated proms for black and white students, even though Mississippi fully integrated its schools in 1970. In 1997 actor Morgan Freeman, a Charleston resident since 1991, approached the school and offered to pay for one, racially integrated prom. His offer was declined. In 2008, Freeman again offered to pay for one prom for all students and the school agreed to accept his offer.

Admission to the movie is free and open only to Skidmore students, faculty, and staff.


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