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Published January 06, 2023
A morning of presentations, sponsored by the University of Wyoming Black Studies Center, is part of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration Saturday, Jan. 14, at St. Paul’s Newman Center, located at 1800 E. Grand Ave. The event is free and open to the public.
The UW Black Studies Center’s multicultural and intergenerational family-friendly celebration commemorates King’s humanitarian contributions by fostering connections between UW and surrounding communities. Reevaluating the civil rights icon’s ideologies through a contextual analysis of his quotes, speeches and writings is advantageous for youths, students and diverse members of the Laramie community, says UW Assistant Professor Fredrick Douglass Dixon, director of the Black Studies Center.
“The celebration is meant as an outlet for community building. When we consider that self-improvement is a catalyst for community development, our chief objective, to create a space to learn and grow, becomes achievable,” Dixon says. “Ultimately, we must fervently consider the contradictions of what is at stake for future generations if we do not introduce multiple perspectives that expand their creative ideas and offer access to empirical facts that benefit the whole of humanity.”
He adds that one of the fundamental goals of the program is to provide an alternative to the customary historical accounts that deepen and transform the scope of King’s legacy.
“Recognizing that we all possess, to varying degrees, a limited understanding of the impact of Dr. King’s legacy prompts a fundamental challenge for all -- ‘come as you are, but do not leave that way,’” Dixon says. “To concretize this challenge, we seek to affirm all participants’ diversity and acknowledge the worth of prior experiences, frames of reference and understandings to make this event’s atmosphere inclusive.”
The goals of the program are to:
-- Create a safe space -- a public forum -- for the greater Laramie community to engage in a series of presentations that reframe King’s legacy.
-- Celebrate King’s birthday/national holiday by engaging the Laramie community in a family-centered gathering that examines his evolutionary trajectory.
-- Provide pathways that address the growing demands for differing and diverse opinions to engage in conscious building dialogue.
-- Deconstruct one of King’s seminal questions, “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?”
-- Revisit King’s thoughts on integration, nonviolence and foreign policy and how these concepts connect to what he envisioned for his “beloved community.”
The morning schedule begins with an 8 a.m. breakfast, followed by an opening prayer by the Rev. Rob Spaulding, from St. Paul’s Newman Center, and opening remarks from Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans, Wyoming’s first Black elected sheriff. The program’s moderator is Kwanna King, UW’s registrar.
UW students will discuss their respective research beginning at 9:15 a.m. Students and their research titles are:
-- Angela Davis, from Cheyenne, “The Blueprint for the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Facing the Challenge of a New Age Speech.”
-- Erika Matheney, from Cheyenne, “Parked at the Periphery: An Examination of the Impact of Black Domestic Workers on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.”
-- Jacob Truman Hozempa, of Longmont, Colo., “You’re the Man Marvin Gaye, Dr. King, and the Problematic Academic Comparisons of Black Leadership.”
A community discussion focusing on the topic “Deconstruction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail” follows at 10 a.m. Panelists are April Heaney, UW LeaRN Programs director; the Rev. Rodger McDaniel, of Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne; Andre McIntyre, Johnson Junior High School assistant principal in Cheyenne; UW Professor Camellia Okpodu; and Dan Pasman, from UniWyo Credit Union in Laramie.
Dixon will close out the program at 11 a.m. when he discusses “The Three Assassinations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
A luncheon will be served at noon.
For more information, email Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org.