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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2012 holiday celebration runs Jan. 16-19 with special performance Jan. 23


Arkansas State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs announces this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Various events will take place throughout Jonesboro and on the ASU campus.
On Monday, Jan. 16, the northeast Arkansas and citywide observance of Martin Luther King Day will begin with a
community parade starting at 10 a.m. at Christ Way United Methodist Church, 3400 Stadium Boulevard. Following the march, ASU’s Centennial Hall, located in the Carl R. Reng Student Union (101 N. Caraway Road) will host the post-parade community program at 12 noon and will feature keynote speaker Senator Linda Pondexter Chesterfield presenting “A Monument of Service.”

Senator Linda Pondexter Chesterfield represents Senate District 34, part of Pulaski County. She is serving her first term in the Arkansas Senate. During the 88th General Assembly, she served as chairman of the Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee and holds membership on several other committees. She was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2002 to serve House District 36, where she served three consecutive terms. While in the House of Representatives, she served as chair of Aging, Children and Youth, chair of Desegregation Litigation, and as chair of the K-12, Vocational-Technical School Institutions Subcommittee of Education. She also served as the president of the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus and is past treasurer of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus. She has been active in many local, state, and national organizations and has held various leadership positions, including serving as past president of the Little Rock School Board and the Pulaski County Association of Classroom Teachers and past two-term president of the Arkansas Education Association. She is the only Arkansan elected to the nine-member Executive Committee of the National Education Association. Senator Chesterfield is a retired educator with more than thirty years of classroom experience. She is also owner of Pondexter Chesterfield Consulting. A native of Hope, Arkansas, Senator Chesterfield was the first African American to graduate from Hendrix College. She and her husband Emry reside in Little Rock.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, a presentation, “Celebrating the Dream,” will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Carl R. Reng Student Union, first floor.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m., “Rekindling the Spirit,” a candlelight vigil commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held at the Carl R. Reng Student Union’s Heritage Plaza, on the east lawn of the union, with a reception to follow in the Multicultural Center, also located in the union.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m., Centennial Hall will host a performing arts night, “Celebrating MLK through the Arts.” Student performances celebrating Dr. King will include song, spoken word, step, and dance.

The holiday celebration will culminate on Monday, Jan. 23, with a very special performance, beginning at 6 p.m. in Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive. Admission is free, and the public is welcome to attend. This “Honoring the Dream” event will feature award-winning actor Darryl Van Leer in his one-man play, “Power on Earth,” a high-energy tour-de-force that dramatizes key moments and events in the lives of eight prominent African Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Led by the angelic narrator Gabriel, the audience is taken on a magical tour and comes face to face with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, and blues greats Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. With 75 different sound effects, 14 different characters, and eight on-stage costume changes, the audience is catapulted through time, experiencing living history in this heart-wrenching testament to man’s courage and determination. “Power on Earth” is one hour and twenty minutes with no intermission. “Power on Earth” is Van Leer’s signature performance and has been called “emotionally riveting,” while Van Leer himself is spoken of as “an actor gifted not only with exceptional range and depth, but with clear-eyed passion and intelligence as well. (Hoyt Hilsman, Daily Variety.)

Darryl Van Leer was born in Madisonville, Kentucky, and is a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communications. He has performed at more than 300 universities in America and has been honored with many awards for his one-man plays, including awards from the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), Campus Activities Today, and a nomination for “Best Performance” from Hollywood’s NAACP Image Awards. Visit Van Leer online for information on tour dates, films, and shows, which include “Rubycat Lawson’s Roadhouse Lounge,” “The Norm of Greatness,” “Fulfilling the Dream: From MLK to Barack Obama,” “Rated: Malcolm X,” “My Life in Bondage: The Life of Frederick Douglass,” and “Bread for the Soul,” a play about inventors and innovators like Dr. George Washington Carver, Dr. Charles Drew, and Garrett Morgan.

For more information, contact Niya Blair, assistant dean of students and director of ASU’s Multicultural Center at (870) 680-4052, or e-mail the Multicultural Center at astatemc@astate.edu. Visit the Multicultural Center online, or follow the Multicultural Center on Facebook and Twitter.