Gannon University MLK Day Events Rooted in Education and Responsibility

Gannon University invited Key Arts Productions to present King’s Dream as a part of a week-long commemoration to illuminate the legacy and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Members of the Gannon community, including Campus Ministry, the Center for Social Concerns and Global Exploration (CSCGE), and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), collaborated to fulfill the Gannon Mission, which emphasizes “inclusiveness and social responsibility,” just a few of many words that served as bedrock principles for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he envisioned a society of freedom, equity, and equality.

“At Gannon, the commemoration and recognition of Dr. King provides an opportunity to further educate our community on civil rights, show our solidarity in the promotion of equal rights for all, and reinforce Dr. King’s dream of racial, social, religious, and economic equality,” says DEI Director Gerald J. James.

The King’s Dream performance engaged an enthusiastic audience that filled the Yehl Ballroom on campus. Viewers sat riveted in their seats as they watched archival film footage chronicling the struggles of Rosa Parks, The Little Rock Nine, Freedom Fighters, and those who fought for equality during the civil rights movement, clips of President JFK addressing the nation during the turbulent time, MLK’s famous I Have a Dream speech, and his tragic assassination in Memphis. “What would you have done during the movement?” narrator and producer Joseph Patterson of Key Arts asked viewers. He encouraged those in the room to continue to bring Dr. King’s dream to fruition.

The King’s Dream included rousing musical performances by talented singers Nathan Harmon and Tasha Montfort, whose moving renditions of Amazing Grace, What’s Going On, and Blowing in the Wind, had audience members clapping, singing, and emotionally engaged in the program. A presentation highlight occurred when everyone held hands and sang a rousing rendition of We Shall Overcome, an anthem of unity that still resonates with people worldwide.

Dr. Walter Iwanenko, the provost, added, “The program was moving and very well [produced]. We plan to invite Key Arts Productions back to campus.”

The remembrance of Dr. King’s life, work, and legacy is essential to every facet of the Gannon community, and the various observances that occurred during the week on campus reflected that.

Gannon students, faculty, and staff participated in a city-wide march in Erie, PA; a poetry contest focused on ideas of equality and racial and ethnic justice; a prayer service planned by students, including the Black Student Union and the African Student Organization, which took place in the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel. and the curated King’s Dream multimedia event brought to campus by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.