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January 20, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. convocations at CWRU

The first university convocation held to honor the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was Thursday, April 11, 1968. The first annual convocation to honor Dr. King was held Monday, January 18, 1988.

At the 1968 convocation, just a week after King’s assassination, Chancellor John S. Millis presided and Professor John Turner, a fellow alumnus of Morehouse College and personal friend of Dr. King’s, was the principal speaker. Rabbi Bernard Martin gave the invocation and benediction. The Case Glee Club, under the direction of William Appling, sang a hymn and Lois Winckler, president of Mather Student Government, made remarks. As the announcement stated, “This was the first such event on the campus commemorating a non-University leader since the memorial convocation for President John F. Kennedy.”

The annual convocations generally feature an address by a main speaker, opening remarks by the university president, and music and song. Featured speakers have included clergy (such as The Right Reverend Arthur B. Williams, Jr., Reverend Marvin McMickle, Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.), and scholars (such as Aldon Morris, Samuel Proctor, Nikki Giovanni, and Joan Southgate).

In fall of 1996 an essay contest was introduced for the 1997 convocation. Prizes were awarded in 3 categories (faculty, staff, student). First place winners read their essays at the annual convocation. Over time, only one essay was read at the convocation.

Over the years, the commemoration of Dr. King and his legacy has grown from a single university convocation to a series of events over a week. From lectures and films to exhibits, poetry readings and concerts, sponsoring organizations and departments span the campus (e.g., University Program Board, African American Society, Case Democrats and Case Republicans, Office of the President, Student Affairs, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Kelvin Smith Library, and academic departments and centers.

The events usually take place during the week of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in January. President Ronald Reagan signed the 1983 law creating the national holiday, which was first observed in 1986.

Posted by hxy2 at January 20, 2011 05:12 PM

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