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>  News Releases >   2008 >   January

Edelman to be MLK keynote speaker

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 01/16/08 • Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

Marian Wright Edelman
Civil rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman is the keynote speaker for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

This year, Dartmouth's series of events celebrating the life and work of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will focus on the theme "(In)Visible Identities: The King Legacy and the Class Divide." Marian Wright Edelman, long-time civil rights advocate and founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), will deliver this year's keynote address. The celebration will begin on Sunday, Jan. 20, and continue through Friday, Feb.1. Most programs are free and open to the public.

Edelman's speech is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in Spaulding Auditorium in the Hopkins Center. Edelman was the first black woman to be admitted to the Mississippi bar and, as a leader with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, she served as counsel for Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign after his assassination. She founded the Children's Defense Fund in the 1970s to apply pressure on the federal government to help disadvantaged children and to coordinate nationwide activities benefitting children. Tickets to her address are free and will be available beginning Jan. 15 for Dartmouth students, staff and faculty (Dartmouth I.D. required) and on Jan. 17 for the general public. Tickets are limited to two per person and ticket holders must be in their seats by 6:45 p.m., after which empty seats become available to those without tickets.

A multimedia presentation of the speech Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at Dartmouth on May 23, 1962, will run continuously from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, in 105 Dartmouth Hall. Other highlights of the two-week-long program include panel discussions, lectures, film screenings, a candlelight vigil and performances.

The College's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee is headed by Giavanna Munafo, associate director for training and educational programs in the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity, and Nelson Armstrong, special assistant to the president. "The symbols or markers of class in popular culture reduce complex realities about money and access to simplistic equations," said Munafo. "Too often class is virtually left out of analyses of diversity and difference -- both in student culture and in our classrooms and co-curricular programs and efforts, at least until very recently. People just don't talk about it that much, yet, at the same time, we all know class shapes our lives and is, in that sense, very visible. King's desire to organize a Poor Peoples Campaign and his growing attention to issues of poverty is an aspect of his legacy we have not highlighted in past celebrations, so it is important to us to make that connection this year."

The celebration concludes with the presentation of Dartmouth's annual Social Justice Awards on Friday, February 1, at 5 p.m. in Collis Common Ground. Those to be honored this year are:

  • Stephen Atwood '68, DMS '70, UNICEF's Regional Advisor for Health and Nutrition in East Asia and the Pacific. In 2005-2006 he served as UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations in Banda Aceh, coordinating massive public health and recovery operations in the wake of the pacific Tsunami.
  • Allison Barlow '86, the Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. She has also been a long-time active board member with the South Baltimore Homeless Shelter.
  • Renai Rodney '99, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. She previously worked as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, and she is co-founder of Voices International, a mentoring project for adolescent girls.
  • Anne Sosin '02, Founder and Director of Haiti Rights Vision, which focuses on women's rights, violence against women, health as a human right, and general human rights issues in Haiti.
  • Dartmouth Ends Hunger, which works to bring issues of world poverty to the forefront through interactive campus events.
  • MEDLIFE, which works with families in poor communities to improve their access to medicine, education, and community development.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a key figure in the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, from his leadership of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955-56 to the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in 1963. As an advocate of an unyielding but nonviolent campaign for change, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968. In 1983, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be observed on the third Monday in January, a day that falls on or is near King's birthday.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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