Martin Luther King To Be Honored With Music, Dance And Spoken-Word At UTC

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - by Shawn Ryan, UTC

Hope, unity, social justice, a sense of community, a frank discussion of race.

Those are some of the themes to be presented during “O, King,” an event focusing on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Taking place the day after what would’ve been King’s 89th birthday and in the 50th year since his assassination in Memphis, “O, King” offers a variety of music, dance and spoken-word performances centered on the central messages from the civil rights icon.

“We still have people fighting those same fights, and his vision was to bring people together and that’s our goal,” says Mo Baptiste, co-chair of “O, King” and executive director of Student Development at UTC.



The event gives the performing artists “a way to express what Dr. King and his beliefs meant to them,” he says. “The arts are a wonderful way to express those feelings.”

Groups performing at “O, King” include the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the McCallie Men’s Chorus, the UTC Chamber Singers, the Littleton H. Mason Singers, a step show by the Eta Phi chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a dance performance by UTC student Taylor Freeman and a spoken-word performance by UTC staff member Terrence Banks.

Dr. King’s vision included a sense of hope, unity, social justice and community, all aiming at the same goal in the civil rights struggle.

Dr. Jonathan McNair, the other co-chair of the event and a Ruth S. Holmberg Professor of American Music, says those themes include hope, unity, social justice and building a sense of community.

“Hope keeps you going; it keeps you alive; it keeps your human spirit alive,” he says. “Hope is very much needed right now considering what’s going on in our world and in our country.

“We need to be acknowledging and recovering a sense of unity. We have to keep a light shining on efforts for social justice. We need to be building a stronger sense of community here in Chattanooga,” he says.

There also is a serious need in the U.S. for “really frank and candid discussions around racial issues. We cannot avoid it. It’s real.”

The U.S. is experiencing a lot of change these days, which makes many people nervous, Mr. Baptiste says.

“I think we tend to be afraid of change when change is inevitable.”

The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16 in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall, UTC Fine Arts Center.  Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.utc.edu/music.


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