Nashville’s Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) will once again celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its 35th MLK commemorative Youth Rally, March, and convocation on Monday, January 20. This year’s theme is ‘Protecting the Dream: Confronting the Assaults.’ The featured keynote speaker for the convocation will be Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
A distinguished professor of African American and Diaspora studies, and of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University, Michael Dyson is a thought leader on race, religion, and contemporary culture. He is the author or editor of more than 20 books on subjects ranging from Malcolm X to Tupac Shakur. He received an American Book Award for Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster and three NAACP Image Awards. Dyson is a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, an MSNBC political analyst, and a contributing editor at the New Republic. He is an ordained Baptist minister.
Each year, thousands join in a week of activities prior to the national observance of MLK Day, in order to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. Events culminate with the annual Youth Rally and March (starting at the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church) leading participants to the convocation, which will be held at Tennessee State University’s Gentry Center.
“It’s extremely important that we understand that Dr. King’s voice was all about making sure that we were supporting our young people, our older people, our entire city and all of its citizens in the fight for social justice and racial equality,” said MLK Nashville Committee Chair Cherly Mayes. “We want to make sure that that does not get lost or get watered down.”
Events kicked off earlier this week with the MLK inter-generational panel and the inaugural MLK Day Black Tie Gala.
“The purpose of the gala is to support HBCU students enrolled here in Nashville,” said Mayes.
“We will make a presentation to the presidents of the universities at the convocation on Monday, Jan. 16.”
Additionally, on Friday, January 13, there will be a Fair Housing Discussion sponsored by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Much has been written about Dr. King’s legacy with respect to jobs and voting, but far less so regarding his significant role leading up to the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act,” said event organizers. “This event is a unique opportunity to reveal King’s vision for desegregated housing, as well as review the complex path to legislation that is still debated for its inherent restrictions and challenges.”
The speaker for the event will be Dr. Karen Bishop Morris, an associate professor of English at Purdue University Northwest and director of the Northwest Indiana Writing Project.
Dr. Bishop Morris has devoted decades to moving individuals and organizations to the next level. For seven years she co-moderated Breaking the Glass Ceiling, a series spotlighting 65 female senior executives, entrepreneurs, and community leaders who shared their journey on the road to success. In 2019 Breaking the Glass Ceiling was featured on Lakeshore PBS as part of Women’s History Month programming where it was broadcast to over 3.5 million homes in Northwest Indiana, Chicago, and surrounding suburbs. She has also served in leadership positions with several national non-profit organizations, and has been recognized for her fundraising, program development, and strategy-building achievements. She served previously on the board of directors for Girls Write Now (NYC), and Lawson House Chicago YMCA. She currently serves on the board of St. Catherine Hospital, one of four premier healthcare facilities in the Community Healthcare System, and Laini Fluellen Charities, an advocacy organization for women who are susceptible to triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
In 2022, she received the Purdue University Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreamer Award for her work as moderator of a widely acclaimed series on race, racism, and anti-racism.
Morris will also facilitate the event ‘Nashville Reads MLK’ later this year.
Other events include: Labor/Human Rights Breakfast, Youth Symposium, Women of Faith Panel, and the Youth Book Drive.