A Fitting Community Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 5, 2018 at 10:42 am 2 comments

One year before he was assassinated in Memphis, TN., Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. rented a house in Jamaica and penned a final manuscript entitled “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”
Last night at the Eisenhower Auditorium, on the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, the answer was clearly “community.”

In a glorious and moving tribute to King’s life and legacy, put together by music professor Anthony Leach ’82 MMus, ’96 PhD A&A and Russell Shelley ’97 DEd A&A, six choirs took the stage in turn to perform a number of much-loved songs. They included the iconic anthem “We Shall Overcome,” and Leach’s original arrangement of the beloved gospel “This Li’l Light of Mine,” for which the Penn State Glee Club (conducted by Christopher Kiver, director of choral activities); Essence of Joy and Essence 2 Ltd (both conducted by Leach); The State College High School Master Singers (conducted by Erik Clayton ’06 A&A, ’08 MU Ed); the State College Choral Society and the Juniata College Concert Choir (both conducted by Shelley) crowded together on the stage in a grand finale.

Leach—who was featured in our Sept./Oct. 2017 issue—expressed hope that the community spirit would continue here at Penn State and beyond. The much-loved choir director, who came to Penn State as a graduate student and founded Essence of Joy and Essence 2 Ltd.—will retire shortly.

On January 21, 1965, Dr. King addressed a crowd of 8,000 people at Rec Hall on the University Park campus. Those who were unable to get a ticket listened to his speech on Penn State’s first student radio station, WDFM, which broadcast it live.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.  —Savita Iyer     MLK image

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  April 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    This was a fabulous, inspirational concert, with the various choirs singing with beauty and passion. A fitting tribute to Dr. King.

  • 2. Jim Devore  |  May 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Just finished the new book about MLK JR titled “The Seminarian” by Patrick Parr.

    From his senior year at Morehouse at the age of 19, he wrote, “Education will enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from fiction.”

    Already mature beyond his age, we could use him now even more.

    RIP Dr. King.

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