The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is often hailed as a moral voice who championed racial harmony while raising concerns about racial injustice.
King, however, didn’t receive such fanfare during his life.
“It is easy to forget Dr. King’s radical fire when we only remember snippets from his idealistic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” says Dr. Dwain Pruitt, Wofford College’s chief equity officer. “Dr. King was an advocate of disruption, especially from 1965 to his death in 1968. In his day, he was considered a ‘dangerous troublemaker.’ He was reviled as a communist, harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.”
Wofford College’s 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances will include events offering insight on what King experienced while pursuing social and economic justice and speaking against the Vietnam War.
Chevara Orrin, a daughter of the Rev. James Bevel, a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement, will discuss King’s complex legacy while sharing personal stories at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16. The film “King in the Wilderness,” which focuses on King’s final years, will be shown at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Other events taking place at Wofford include packing hygiene kits for the homeless, a training focused on working through conflicts and a presentation by Rodney Mims Cook Jr., founder and president of the National Monuments Foundation, who will discuss a 16-acre park in Atlanta, Georgia, that provides a much-needed greenspace for a historically Black neighborhood while educating people about the community’s civic history.
Wofford College’s 2023 MLK Events:
Monday, Jan. 16
“A Movement, Not a Moment: 21st Century Activism”
11 a.m., Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts
Chevara Orrin, a diversity and inclusion practitioner, author and international speaker, is the daughter of the Rev. James Bevel, a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement. She will explore the complexity of King’s legacy interspersed with personal stories from her unique history as Bevel’s daughter. Bevel was the architect of several of the most pivotal campaigns of the 1960s, including the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade and the Selma to Montgomery march, which ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Bevel was portrayed by Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award-winning artist Common in the critically acclaimed film, “SELMA.”
Monday, Jan 16
“DIY” – Hygiene Kit Build
4 p.m., Tony White Theater in the Mungo Student Center
Join the campus community in assembling hygiene kits for the homeless community in Spartanburg. Bags will be packed during this event and delivered to TOTAL Ministries on Jan. 17.
Tuesday, Jan. 17
Finding Common Ground: From Conflict to Coalition Building
5:30 p.m., Tony White Theatre in the Mungo Student Center
The National Coalition Building Institute’s award-winning Controversial Issues Process trains leaders to deal constructively with conflicts, enabling them to move disputing parties toward future cooperation. Participants learn to reframe controversial issues into a context where all parties are able to work toward a common solution. The skills taught in this workshop can be used by anyone in any conflict situation, from simple misunderstanding to heated debate. Light refreshments will be provided. Participants must RSVP to Sara Milani at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on Jan. 16.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
Screening of “King in the Wilderness”
5:30-8 p.m., Olin Teaching Theater 101
The college’s MLK Observance Committee will sponsor a screening of “King in the Wilderness,” an NAACP Image Award-winning 2018 documentary that focuses on the final years of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work. The screening will be followed by a conversation about the film. Pizza and soft drinks will be available for all registered attendees. Register here no later than noon on Jan. 18.
Thursday, Jan. 26
A Monument to Harmony: Atlanta and the Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park
3-4 p.m., location TBD
Rodney Mims Cook Jr., founder and president of the National Monuments Foundation, will discuss the public-private partnership that created the Rodney Cook Sr. Peace Park, a 16-acre park in Atlanta, Georgia’s historically Black Vine City that offers the community a much-needed green space, mitigates historic flooding issues and honors people whose lives were committed to making Atlanta “the city too busy to hate.”