KENT. OH - Former congressman and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume will be the special guest speaker at Kent State University’s Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Kent Student Center. Mfume is also a nationally respected diversity advocate and TV and radio commentator. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to celebrate cultural diversity, network, socialize and be motivated and entertained at the free event.
This year’s celebration centers on the theme “Empowering the Individual, Strengthening the Community.” Dr. Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, welcomes everyone to attend as many of the afternoon activities as their schedules permit.
“Dr. King brought people together to address important issues,” Brown said. “In that spirit, we wish to strengthen our community by celebrating his legacy and engaging and empowering people to make a difference in the lives of others. Our annual celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the past, broaden our knowledge of diversity and inclusion, and build cross-cultural understanding.”
Kent State annually hosts its Martin Luther King Jr. event the week following the national holiday to better involve students, faculty, staff and community members.
The afternoon’s schedule begins at 1 p.m. with a cultural celebration of music, word and dance as the Kent Student Center Kiva stage showcases a performance by the Bhutanese-Nepali Dance Group; a cultural expression presentation by Professor Traci Easley-Williams; spoken word by Robin Wright, Kent State-NAACP president; and musical performances by world-renowned University Professor Emeritus Halim El-Dabh, Kent alternative band Astro Van and the university’s Voices of Testimony Gospel Choir.
The celebration moves to the Kent Student Center Ballroom from 2:10 to 3:30 p.m. Following a video montage and a musical selection by the Kent State University Gospel Choir, Kent State President Lester A. Lefton will give his welcoming remarks. Dr. Richard Serpe, chair of the Department of Sociology, will introduce Mfume who will present his address.
Mfume’s political career began with service on the Baltimore City Council in 1979. During his seven years of service, Mfume led efforts to diversify city government, improve community safety, enhance business development and divest city funds from the then-apartheid government of South Africa.
In 1986, Mfume was elected to Congress, where he served on the Banking and Financial Services, Education and Small Business committees and held the ranking seat on the General Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. While in his third term, he served on the Ethics Committee and the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate, which he later chaired.
Mfume became president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996, a post he held for nine years. During that time, he significantly raised the national profile of the NAACP and helped restore its prominence among the nation’s civil rights organizations.
Mfume’s background in broadcasting includes 13 years in radio and nine years as the host of the locally award-winning television show “The Bottom Line” and five years as the host of the nationally syndicated NBC-Hearst TV special “The Remarkable Journey.”
Kent State’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is free and open to the public. It is wheelchair accessible and will be interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL).