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Jan 14, 2003

Calvin Hosts MLK Day Events

Calvin College will host a variety of events on Monday, January 20 to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and also will participate in many of the community events in downtown Grand Rapids and other locations.

The day will begin at Calvin with a special 10 a.m. Chapel Service to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

At 12:30 p.m. James Skillen will present a talk at the January Series (in the Fine Arts Center) called "In Celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Creative Justice." Skillen, president of the Center for Public Justice in Washington D.C., will ask: "Where is justice to be found?" His answer: we have all been created in the image of God. The deepest import of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s movement, he says, extends beyond opposition to racism to the achievement of human dignity for every person. Likewise, Skillen contends, it is only in the Creator and Redeemer of humanity that we can find the hope that dissolves despair, the power to overcome hatred, the love to bind ourselves to one another and the confidence that justice will be established.

Calvin College is sponsoring "A Supper-time Chat with Mrs. Gill" on Monday, January 20, in order to give Calvin students a chance to learn from someone "who was there." Lillian Gill, a Grand Rapids resident since 1936, was born in Mississippi in 1917 and will share pictures and stories from the Civil Rights era. She spoke at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham where she met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960. She also met President Harry Truman and Governor George Wallis when she did leadership training in the south.

Finally at 7:30 p.m. that evening Calvin will host a talk on non-violence in the context of the middle east by former CNN bureau chief Jerry Levin, the first of the so-called "forgotten" hostages in Lebanon in the mid 1980s. Kidnapped on March 7, 1984, he spent 11 months in solitary confinement until his escape on Valentines Day, 1985. While a hostage, Jerry experienced a spiritual transformation from a "culturally assimilated Jewish-American atheist" to becoming a follower of Jesus. After his escape to freedom he embarked on a campaign of writing and lecturing on the futility of violence as a means of resolving individual, social, cultural or political issues. Since May 2002, he has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the occupied territories. His talk, to be held in the Commons Lecture Hall at 7:30 p.m., is called "Healing the Dysfunctional Family of Abraham."

Also, during the day on January 20, Calvin will show continuously in Johnny's (its on-campus coffee shop) the video series Eyes on the Prize. And in the adjacent Commons Annex it will display its Civil Rights Walking Museum, a visual representation of the Civil Rights movement. Calvin also will hand out black ribbons all day as a remembrance of the Civil Rights movement and a show of solidarity.

On Tuesday, January 21 Calvin will host a breakfast with James Skillen for community leaders.

Several Calvin College interim courses (interim is a three-week term in January during which students take just one class) also explore aspects of the Civil Rights movement, including: From Yellow-Dog Democrats to Blue-Blood Republicans: The Politics of the American South, which examines the dramatic events that transformed the South from a Democratic stronghold to a politically competitive region, and Exploring African Women Writers, which considers the growing creative output by African women writers.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)