Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware to Observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Worship Service, Breakfast, Documentary Film Discussions Set to Honor Civil Rights Leader’s Legacy
Martin Luther King Jr. (Original photo by Howard Sochurek/LIFE)

Martin Luther King Jr. (Original photo by Howard Sochurek/LIFE)

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University and the Delaware County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee will observe the 2014 anniversary of King’s birthday with three days of programming that includes two documentary film discussions, a worship service, and the 21st annual MLK Breakfast Celebration, which raises scholarship funds for area students.

The 2014 MLK observance will begin with the 29th annual Delaware-area worship service at 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at Zion AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church, 140 S. Washington St. The service will feature remarks from Pastor Kimberly Strain of Delaware’s Outreach Christian Center.

Strain holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and black world studies from Ohio Wesleyan. She is the founder and senior pastor of Outreach Christian Center, where she is assisted by her husband, Minister Harry Strain. The Center, 77 B London Road, opened in October 1998. Kimberly Strain, a 2007 OWU graduate, also works as a part-time curriculum resource center manager for the university’s education department.

Delaware’s 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. observance will continue at 7:45 a.m. Jan. 20 with the 21st annual MLK Breakfast Celebration in the Benes Room of Ohio Wesleyan’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave. Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer, Episcopal leader of the Ohio West Area of the United Methodist Church since September 2012, will serve as the keynote speaker.

The breakfast buffet will begin at 7:45 a.m., followed by the program at 8:30 a.m. Individual breakfast tickets are $20, with eight-person table sponsorships available for $160. Proceeds help to provide Delaware County MLK Scholarships. For reservations, contact Rosalind Scott, celebration committee chair, at (740) 368-3386 or rdscott@owu.edu. Breakfast reservations and payment are requested before Jan. 16, although a limited number of tickets may be available at the door.

The community MLK observance also will feature an opportunity to watch clips from and discuss “Freedom Riders,” an Emmy award-winning documentary that chronicles the activities of more than 400 Civil Rights activists who rode interstate buses through the Deep South for six months in 1961. These “freedom riders” endured threats, jail time, and physical violence in their effort to end the era’s Jim Crow segregation laws.

The free clips screening and discussion will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Bayley Room on the second floor of Ohio Wesleyan’s Beeghly Library, 43 Rowland Ave. The discussion will be guided by Hasan Jeffries, Ph.D., associate professor of history at The Ohio State University. Jeffries specializes in 20th century African American history and has expertise in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. He is the author of “Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt.”

To view the complete “Freedom Riders” film prior to the 90-minute OWU program, visit createdequal.neh.gov/films/freedom-riders. Advance screening is encouraged but not required.

The Ohio Wesleyan Libraries received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to host the “Freedom Riders” event as part of the nationwide “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” film-and-discussion series. The series seeks to bring together diverse communities to explore the history of civil rights and the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. Future “Created Equal” events will incorporate the documentaries “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” and “The Loving Story.”

Dee Peterson, coordinator of user services at the Ohio Wesleyan Libraries, is leading the local “Created Equal” initiative, made possible through the NEH grant as part of its “Bridging Cultures” project with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. To learn more about the “Created Equal” series, visit createdequal.neh.gov or contact Peterson at dmpeters@owu.edu.

The local 2014 MLK observance will conclude with a free community screening and discussion of the documentary “White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America.” This event will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in Benes Room B inside Ohio Wesleyan’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave. The full documentary screening, sponsored by the OWU President’s Commission on Racial and Cultural Diversity, will be followed by an audience discussion facilitated by Paul Dean, Ph.D., Ohio Wesleyan assistant professor of sociology and anthropology.

Dean’s research interests include social inequality, economic sociology, social movements, race/ethnicity, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. He also is the co-creator and co-editor of The Sociological Cinema, an award-winning website for using video and popular culture to teach and learn sociology. To learn more about the site, visit www.thesociologicalcinema.com.

“White Like Me” is based on the work of anti-racist educator and author Tim Wise, who argues that society’s failure to come to terms with white privilege continues to perpetuate racial inequality and race-driven political resentments. To learn more about the film, visit www.whitelikememovie.org.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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