MLK commemoration encourages community to 'Stand Up!'

January 09, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's University Park community honors the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a simple yet powerful message to "Stand Up!" during its 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration.

The commemoration will be highlighted by a performance by Barry Scott, an authority on the life and works of King whose one-man play "Ain't Got Long to Stay Here" dramatizes the Civil Rights era. Scott recreates numerous figures of the era, capturing differing opinions and personalities that King faced. He will perform at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16 at Eisenhower Auditorium. Click here to view a preview.

Journalist and social activist Jeff Johnson will be keynote speaker for the Evening Celebration scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Schwab Auditorium. Johnson is an award-winning journalist and commentator in national media who is committed to fostering broad-based communication about issues of race, politics, popular culture and socioeconomics.

The events are free and open to the public, but tickets are required and can be picked up at Eisenhower Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center and the Penn State Downtown Theatre.

King wrote that he was called to "Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth…" and that is reflected in the commemoration's theme, selected jointly by a campus and community committee and a student committee.

"Dr. King spent his life standing up for justice and for equal rights, and helping others to do the same," said Marcus Whitehurst, associate vice provost for Educational Equity and chair of the MLK Commemoration Committee. "It's important that we encourage future generations to continue to stand up for what they believe in and to know that in their own ways they, too, are able to make a positive impact."

Senior graphic design major Sarah Bachman of Palmyra, Pa., captures the theme in her design for the 2012 commemoration poster depicting an individual standing with the help of others.

"My idea for the poster came from Martin Luther King Jr.'s idea of working together to stand up," Bachman said. "The basic idea that you can achieve more while working together is represented through the image of three different hands coming together to hold up another person. The person being lifted is standing taller than he would on his own, symbolizing MLK's idea for everyone to come together to stand up tall."

Students have a holiday from classes on Monday, Jan. 16, the observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but many will commit the day off to serving the community during the annual Day of Service from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., beginning in Heritage Hall of the HUB-Robeson Center. Community members can sign up to volunteer at

That day will also include showings of the feature documentary "Freedom Riders" at 10 a.m. and a portion of "For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots" at 2 p.m. in Foster Auditorium of Pattee Library.

Three faculty members will lead "The Globalization of Democracy in the 21st Century: A Conversation about the Arab Spring Revolution and the Quest for Democratic Ideals," at noon on Thursday, Jan. 19 in HUB Auditorium. The discussion will feature Michael Adewumi, vice provost for Global Programs; Arthur Goldschmidt, professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history; and Sam Richards, senior lecturer of sociology.

Later on Jan. 19. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity will host an oratorical competition at 7:30 p.m. in 100 Life Sciences Building.

Events on Tuesday, Jan. 17, include a community showcase at 6 p.m. in HUB Auditorium followed immediately by a Peace March at 7 p.m. and concluding with a Social Justice Forum at 7:45 p.m. in Waring Commons Cultural Lounge.

Whitehurst credited the members of the MLK Commemoration Student Planning Committee, including co-executive directors Seth Moncrease, Jr. and Marchelle Roniet, for their work to bring together a diverse array of events to commemorate King's life.

"Seth, Marchelle and the students who planned and coordinated this year's events have thought creatively about the many different ways we can celebrate Martin Luther King's life in a way that encourages our community to carry on these messages and make a positive impact well beyond just this month," Whitehurst said. "The tremendous amount of dedication and hard work the students have put into this is to be admired, and it is an excellent example of how Dr. King continues to inspire new generations."

Throughout January and February, the Penn State Alumni Library is hosting a virtual exhibit online of annual Black History Month posters produced by Greyhound Bus Corporation. Greyhound created the posters in recognition of the integral role buses have played in the struggle against racism, from Rosa Parks to Freedom Rides by civil rights activists. For information, visit

For a full schedule of events and additional information, visit Follow the commemoration on Twitter at and "Like" the Facebook page at

  • The 2012 MLK Commemoration poster designed by student Sarah Bachman

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 10, 2012