MLK Commemoration wants community to 'Be the Change'

Editor's note: Keith Boykin was announced on Jan. 18 as a replacement for speaker Soledad O'Brien for the Evening Celebration on Jan. 20. O'Brien was forced to withdraw from the celebration when she was deployed by CNN to cover the crisis in Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake there. For more information, visit

University Park, Pa. — The dandelion cannot be stopped. It grows on six continents and overcomes all manner of efforts to eradicate it. It survives, even in the worst environments.

To Lauren Barry, a Penn State senior graphic design major from Stewartstown, Pa., hope for positive change seems a lot like the dandelion — unable to be suppressed in the harshest environments. For that reason, she chose the dandelion as the central idea for her design to accompany the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration theme, "Dream the Change, Lead the Change, Be the Change."

"You can feed it poison, dig it out, cut it down and, despite all odds, it will survive," said Barry, whose design was chosen from among submissions by graphic design students in an art class led by Lanny Sommese, professor of art. "Many of us, as children, have blown away the parachute-shaped seeds to make a wish. This association creates a sense of innocence and a belief that all things are possible. I believe it is everyone's wish to spread positive change, just as Martin Luther King Jr. did."

This year's events mark the 25th commemoration at the University Park campus, dating to 1985 when then University President Bryce Jordan first appointed a commemoration committee. Today, a campus and community committee works with a student committee to develop events, which include the annual Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 18. Community members can pre-register to volunteer by going to

"The commemoration celebrates and advocates for the change that Dr. King dreamed and spoke of," said Marcus Whitehurst, associate vice provost for Educational Equity and chair of the MLK Commemoration Committee. "One of the most important ways we can do that is by helping in our own community."

Whitehurst lauded students Christina Henry and Julie Kosovec, co-directors of the MLK student committee, along with other members of the committee for their dedication to honoring King's legacy.

"Each year our student leaders commit themselves to making the commemoration something that has an impact on our community," Whitehurst said. "Christina, Julie and the students coordinating this year's events have done excellent work in creating opportunities to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s memory."

CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien was originally scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Evening Celebration, which begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium. O'Brien, one of CNN's top special investigations reporters, was deployed to Haiti to cover the disaster relief efforts there in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake. Keith Boykin -- editor of The Daily Voice online news site, a CNBC contributor, a BET TV host and a New York Times best-selling author of three books -- will replace O'Brien as keynote speaker. For more on Boykin, visit

The Evening Celebration also will feature performances by student performing arts company NOMMO, which specializes in African dance and drumming, choral ensemble Essence of Joy, students from State College Friends School and poet Nathan James.

There is no charge to attend the celebration, but tickets are required and can be obtained at the Eisenhower Auditorium ticket office.

A Peace March and Service will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. The march begins at the Old Main steps and concludes with a service and reception at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.

Pattee Library will host through Feb. 28 two exhibits on King and Penn State. One exhibit looks back at King's Jan. 21, 1965, speech at Rec Hall on the University Park campus. Another exhibit displays the campus's history of MLK commemorations. For more on the exhibit, visit and for an MLK Commemoration timeline, see

Penn State Laureate Anthony Leach, associate professor of music and music education, will present "M.L. King Holiday — A Choral Reflection," from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, at President's Hall in the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, as part of the Penn State Forum speaker series. Tickets are $15, and lunch is included. To purchase tickets, contact the ID+ Office, located at 103 HUB-Robeson Center, University Park, call (814) 865-7590, or visit online for more information.

For more on activities this month featuring Leach and Essence of Joy, visit

Leach discusses prominent protest songs of King's time at

For a complete list of MLK Commemoration events, see the list below. For more information, visit

Jan. 11-Feb. 28
Exhibit: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaks at Rec Hall, January 21, 1965
1st Floor, Pattee Library Lobby

Jan. 15- Feb. 28
Exhibit: Penn State Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1985-2010
Pattee Library Lending Services, Pattee Library Main Exhibit Area, Floor 1, and Diversity Studies Room, 109 Pattee Library

Jan. 15
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Penn State Forum: Anthony Leach, Penn State Laureate, "M.L. King Holiday — A Choral Reflection"
President's Hall, Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel
Tickets $15
Contact: ID+ Office, 103 HUB-Robeson Center

6:30 p.m.
35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet
Sponsored by the Forum on Black Affairs
President's Hall, Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel
Tickets required. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.

Jan. 17
3-5 p.m.
25th Anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. Community Showcase
Worship Hall, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center

Jan. 18
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Registration: Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center
Pre-register at

10 a.m.-noon
2 p.m.-4 p.m.

Film: "4 Little GIrls" (Spike Lee, Director)
Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee

1-2 p.m.
King in Montgomery: Ten Years in the Non-Violent Civil Rights Movement
State College Friends School, 1900 University Drive, State College, Pa.

7-9 p.m.
Social Justice Reception
Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center
Complimentary tickets required.

Jan. 19
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Another Key to the Dream — Education Abroad Toward Intercultural Harmony, Are Some Students Missing Out?
Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center

4-5:30 p.m.
Peace March and Service
Begins at Old Main steps and ends with service at Worship Hall, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center
Reception to follow in Garden Room, Pasquerilla Center

Jan. 20
6 p.m.
Evening Celebration
Featuring performances by NOMMO, poet Nathan James, Essence of Joy and students from State College Friends School
Keynote address by Keith Boykin
Eisenhower Auditorium
Complimentary tickets available Eisenhower Auditorium ticket office.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010