MLK III to speak at College

by Shevani Jaisingh | 5/29/01 5:00am

After announcing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as this year's keynote Commencement speaker, the College will bring in another big name for Class Day and Investiture ceremonies -- Martin Luther King III will give the keynote address for the Baccalaureate service, which will be held at 3 p.m. on June 9 in Rollins Chapel.

Currently, King is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization which his father, Martin Luther King Jr., co-founded in 1957. King has been at this post since, January 15, 1998, the day his father would have turned 69.

Dean of the Tucker Foundation Stuart Lord said, "We are honored and excited to have him. We are trying to get Baccalaureate in the minds of graduates as a time of celebration and reflection."

The Baccalaureate service is an interfaith religious event intended as an occasion for thanksgiving as well as a celebration for completing undergraduate and graduate studies.

"It is an interfaith expression of community that reflects the diversity of the College," Lord said.

The service usually incorporates a variety of traditions and languages. There will be readings by members of the Class of 2001 from a number of religions. Lord called the service "worshipping in authentic diverse style."

The Baccalaureate service is sponsored by the Tucker Foundation and is traditionally held at Rollins Chapel the Saturday of Commencement weekend.

Lord told The Dartmouth that King will speak on the issue of social responsibility in an attempt to inspire graduates to make their community, village or hometown a better place and that he will challenge them to be leaders with a sense of responsibility. He added that King will attempt to show that one person "indeed can make a difference."

Other speakers include College Rabbi Edward Boraz and Lord, who will present the charge to the graduation class. A member of the faculty nominated by the Class of 2001 will also give an address and the gospel choir and the chamber singers will sing.

"[As Baccalaureate service speaker] King signals a future expectation of prominent speakers," said Lord. He emphasized that currently students think that the Baccalaureate is just a service, but as a prelude to commencement and a celebration of graduation, it is a significant ceremony. With high caliber speakers like King, Lord said he hopes to fill Rollins chapel for the service.

Throughout his career, King has served as human rights advocate, community activist and political leader. King has been involved with policy initiatives to maintain fair and equitable treatment of citizens at home and abroad.

In the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter asked King to represent the U.S. in two official delegations to promote peace in foreign countries.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, King went on a fact-finding tour through five impoverished African countries in the 1980s. The result of this tour was the Africa Initiative, a program developed to provide hunger relief in Africa.

He also helped the efforts to free Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

In 1986, King was elected to the Georgia Board of Commissioners as an at-large Representative of Fulton County residents. Legislation during his tenure included regulation of minority business participation in public contracting, purification of the county's natural water resources and ethics regulation.

During the 1990s, King made various trips all over the world to promote his father's vision of justice and equality.

He has been committed to the personal, educational and skill development of youth, by initiating various programs such as the King Summer Intern Program, which provides employment opportunities for high school students and A Call to Manhood, an annual event that pairs young African-American males with positive adult role models.

Born in Montgomery, Ala., King is the second oldest of the four children of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott king.

King received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., where he majored in political science.

Upon hearing that King would be the Baccalaureate service speaker, Associate Dean of the Tucker Foundation Jan-Roberta Tarjan said, "I am delighted that he's coming. I have heard he is a marvelous speaker."

President of the Afro-American Society Tahir Golden echoed similar sentiments.

"The Afro-American Society is excited that Martin Luther King III will be this year's Baccalaureate speaker and we look forward to hearing his thoughts and reflections," he said.

In addition to giving the service address, King will be the guest of honor at the Tucker Foundation's Annual Senior Celebration.