Jan. 21, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Blackburn held the Martin Luther King, Jr Convocation as a tribute to the late great orator. The event was held in Bothwell Auditorium from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Staff, students and faculty attended the convocation and reception afterwards.
Starting the ceremony, Chaplain Megan Biddle said the invocation. Next, the Blackburn College Choir led by Dr. Joseph Welch invited the audience to join in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Interim President Dr. John McClusky said a short welcome before Dr. Naomi Crummey, member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, announced the winner of the MLK Student Leadership Award.
The call for nominations states the winner of the MLK Student Leadership Award should be a student who “exemplifies the virtues of diversity and inclusion.” The nomination form for the award also states nominees must have “commitment to celebrate, embrace, value, and learn from the voices, perspectives and experiences of all our Blackburn community members”.
Sophomore Nicholas Johnson won the award. One nomination testified that he works to “make the needs of all students known and heard.” After being invited to the stage, he gave a short acceptance speech thanking several other Blackburn students who inspire him. He then introduced keynote speaker Barry Scott to the stage.
Nicholas Johnson accepting the MLK Student Leadership Award
Barry Scott has worn many hats in his career. He has acted in television programs such as “I’ll Fly Away”, “In the Heat of the Night” and “Ain’t Got Long To Stay Here,” the last of which he also wrote. He is founder and producing director of the American Negro Playwright Theatre at Tennessee State University. He is also a voice-over artist, motivational speaker and performer of King’s speeches.
In his speech “Overcoming Barriers,” Scott recalled his history with the words of King and his experiences with how important the ideas are. As a child, he was first introduced to King when his father brought home the “I Have a Dream” speech. He became “obsessed with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” and soon began performing his speeches in churches in the area. Scott also told how as a teenager a police officer held a gun to his head and almost killed him though he had done nothing wrong. He said it was the words of MLK that helped him through it.
Scott’s speech and the rest of the Convocation reminded the audience that King’s words are still important today. The same ideas of every person being equal guide and motivate modern life.
Guest speaker Gary Scott