The University of West Georgia’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion is hosting the fifth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. program. This event will take place on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. There will be guest speakers, a performance by the United Voices Gospel Choir, and special honoring of four outstanding student organizations.
Dr. Calvin Mackie, a Morehouse College graduate, as well as President and CEO of Channel ZerO Group, LLC will be giving the keynote address. He joins the ranks of past speakers for this event, which include names such as Elisabeth Omilami and Dr. King’s own newphew, Issac Newton Farris Junior.
Other guest speakers at the event will include Jermaine Jackson, Dr. Alicia Caudill, the Associate Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, and UWG’s new president, Dr. Kyle Marrero. Jackson will be offering greetings on behalf of the Carrollton community. He was chosen for this honor because of his position as the Atlanta area manager for WalMart Stores, Inc. Caudill will be giving the greetings on behalf of the UWG faculty and staff.
“Past [UWG] presidents have always supported the King Center,” said Doris Kieh, Program Coordinator for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion. This however, is the first Martin Luther King, Jr. program that the new university president will be a part of here at UWG.
“We’re delighted he [President Marrero] will be bringing greetings,” said Kieh. The president is set to open the program with welcome and greetings.
Darryl Forges of the National Broadcasting Association will be presiding over the evening and the United Voices Gospel Choir will be performing Lift Every Voice and Sing written by James Weldon Johnson.
This year’s theme, “Change Has Come: What Are You Doing About It?” aims inspiration for a generation to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King, as past themes have done.
“The King was such a great hero who brought about social change, justice and equality,” explained Kieh. “Students these days are far removed from the Civil Rights movement, so it’s good for them to hear where we came from.” Previous themes have been “There’s Still Work To Do: Seize The Day”, “It’s Time To Come Together”, and “What Are You Doing For Others”.
Over 25 student organizations will be represented at the event, including many sororities and fraternities, as well as the Fish House and Black Student Alliance (BSA).
“Most of the student organizations are involved in social change by reaching out to the underserved,” said Kieh. “We profile the students or organizations we feel are doing the most to further Dr. King’s vision.” The Student Government Association (SGA), the Student Veterans Association, the West Georgia Judo Club, and the Pan Hellenic Council are the four organizations that the Center for Diversity and Inclusion believes have served their community the most this year.
In the past, student attendance has ranged anywhere between 300 and 500, with the highest attendance rate of 500 the first year.
“This year we’re hoping to fill the ballroom,” said Kieh. “Which means we want to get 500 students to attend again.”