The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration will be held on Friday, January 16, at noon in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel on the Paine College Campus.
Though this year’s event, which is being hosted by Georgia Regents University, Augusta Technical College, and Paine College, will occur on the Paine College campus, GRU will play a significant role in the day’s activities.
Dr. Mark Allen Poisel, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs, will give the Call to Order, and the Invocation will be given by the Rev. Dr. W. Jeffery Flowers, Director of Pastoral Care and Counseling.
Later in the service, Dr. Gretchen Caughman, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, will introduce the speaker, Dr. William H. Harris, President Emeritus of Alabama State University and former Paine College President.
“Our annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is such an important event for our colleges and community,” Caughman said of the celebration. “It brings students, staff, and faculty together to remember Dr. King’s life and legacy and his struggle to bring unity and harmony to a broken nation.”
Harris was brought in as speaker after the Rev. Dr. Julius S. Scott, Jr. suffered medical issues that prevented him from tackling the demands of being speaker. In spite of that setback, however, Scott is scheduled to attend the ceremony and will provide a special Commemorative Litany.
Scott, who met Martin Luther King, Jr. at Brown University in the 1960s and served for three years as the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, has the distinction of being a two-time president of Paine College as well as the interim president of the Medical College of Georgia.
Interim Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan will present Scott with a special honor.
As in previous years, music will be an important part of the celebration.
“The whole idea behind this is to present a unified front and to show that there is broad, diverse support for the initiatives Dr. King championed in his day and the work that still needs to be done,” said Dr. Bill Hobbins, GRU Professor of Music, who is one of the directors preparing the students to sing for the event. “We’re not there yet.”
Hobbins said the musical selections comment on and focus attention on King’s work and the culture from which he emanated. He also spoke about the symbolism of local schools participating in the event.
“I think the educational institutions represent an important symbol for the community that we take time out of our class schedule and set aside time where we all choose to come together to do this,” he said.