Published on January 7th, 2020 | by TLV News


UM Students, Staff Join Community for MLK Day Observances

LOU community gathering to honor slain civil rights icon’s life and legacy

University of Mississippi students, faculty, staff, and community partners are spearheading efforts to promote community engagement and honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Lafayette County and Oxford.

“The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has worked with local community leaders to coordinate existing and new programming and to grow university engagement within the broader community,” said Erin Payseur Oeth, project manager for community engagement. “We have committed to cross-promoting community-wide activities and supporting broad campus and community participation.”

UM is hosting an inaugural community-wide dinner commemorating King’s life and legacy at 7 pm Friday, January 17, in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom. Leslie Burl McLemore, professor emeritus of political science at Jackson State University, will deliver the keynote address.

Leslie Burl McLemore, professor emeritus of political science at Jackson State University, is the keynote speaker for the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Banquet on Jan. 17 in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom. Submitted photo

The theme for the event is “Martin Luther King Jr. and the Right to Vote: The Long Road to Freedom.” The event is free to the public, but an RSVP is requested. Register online at

On Monday, January 20, the university’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is hosting a small group immersive service experience from 2 to 4 pm in the local area.

“We think service is a powerful experience for MLK Day and builds on our larger work of creating immersive service-learning experiences for students in our community,” Oeth said. “We are excited to introduce students to this local community site through service.”

Other scheduled activities include:

  • Saturday, January 18: Third annual community reading of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” 5 pm at Off Square Books. Readers include members from the LOU community to acknowledge one of King’s most powerful works.
  • Monday, January 20: Community opening ceremony from 8 am to noon at Second Baptist Church, 611 Jackson Avenue East. Activities include a community breakfast sponsored by Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, a canned food drive, a voter registration drive sponsored by the Urban League of Women Voters, an NAACP membership drive, and a community program honoring civil rights trailblazers. Following the breakfast, there will a march from Second Baptist to the Lafayette County Courthouse.
  • Monday January 20: A film screening, co-sponsored by the Oxford Film Festival and Southern Foodways Alliance, 2–4 pm at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Films include Yazoo Revisited by David Rae Morris and two films from the SFA.

For more information about MLK Day of Service events, contact Erin Payseur Oeth at, Melanie Addington at, Lyn Roberts at or Jerone Smith at

By Edwin B. Smith

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The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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