Whitman College to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with panel discussion on hate, candlelight walk and lecture

Tuesday, Dec 12, 2006

WALLA WALLA, Wash.— The Whitman College celebration of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday, Jan. 15, will also remember James Byrd, Jr., and Matthew Shepard, with a panel discussion, a lecture and the traditional candlelight march to campus.

“Rejecting Silence: Creative Responses to Hatred,” a panel discussion with audience participation, will begin at 2 p.m. in the Cordiner Foyer, 46 S. Park St. Panelists, moderated by Ron Takemoto, assistant professor of Japanese, will include Marlene Ramsey, Melinda Townsend, Alberto Galindo and Louvon Harris.

Harris is the sister of James Byrd, Jr., whose 1998 dragging murder in Texas was classified and prosecuted as a hate crime. After Byrd's death his family created the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing, similar in scope to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, created by the Shepard family after his murder in Laramie, Wyoming, in October of 1998.

Harris will also present Whitman’s Fourth Matthew Shepard Lecture, “Responding to Hatred: The Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing,” at 7 p.m. in Cordiner Hall. The evening of remembrance will be hosted by Whitman College President George Bridges, and will include clips of King’s speeches, and performances by the Whitman Jazz Septet and the Joint Community Choirs directed by Walla Walla College Choral Director John Dennison.

The Matthew Shepard Lecture series at Whitman College was founded in 2005 (with funds from an anonymous donor) to honor the memory of Matthew Shepard. The series brings to campus noted speakers and public figures to address hate crimes and issues of equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation.

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CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu