Center4ME holds annual Let Freedom Ring event on 50th anniversary of the pastor’s visit to Lynchburg
Liberty University celebrated the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the annual Let Freedom Ring event hosted by the Center for Multi-Cultural Enrichment (Center4ME) on Jan. 16, 2001.
Students, faculty and the Lynchburg community gathered to pray, worship and reflect on the accomplishments and struggles of King and the nation in the quest for civil rights. The day also marked the 50th anniversary of King’s visit to Lynchburg and the integration of the city’s schools.
The service began with prayer led by Center4ME student staffer Justin Smith, who thanked God for giving King his vision and asked that others present may be inspired also. After a powerful presentation of King’s, “I have a dream” speech by Treandous Cuthbertsap, the Bridging the Gap Ministries performed an inspirational dance.
The atmosphere turned celebratory as the audience sang and shouted with praise as the Ramp Church Choir and Shekijah Preparation Assembly led worship.
After the time of praise, keynote speaker Keith Jefferson, the African-American Church Strategist for the International Mission Board, addressed the audience.
Jefferson spoke of King’s accomplishments as a young adult and his early passion for equality for all. King, at the age of 14, won a speech contest where he challenged that the nation would never be truly prosperous when there existed disunity and oppression.
Jefferson also stressed King’s passion and commitment to education. King finished high school at age 15 and then graduated Morehouse College four years later. He also went on to receive his bachelor of divinity and doctorate of philosophy in systematic theology at Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University respectively.
However, Jefferson cited statistics that today only 48 percent of African American males graduate high school and 58 percent of females graduate college.
Jefferson referred to Liberty’s high percentage of ethnic students and cited it as proof that Liberty students are beating the odds.
“My heart is full because as I can see in this crowd tonight that you at Liberty are living the dream,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson encouraged students to not grow weary in the face of challenges and related how King faced his biggest crisis at just 25 years old. After graduation, he had to choose where to raise his family. King decided to leave the relative safety of the north and move his family to Montgomery, Ala.
Jefferson continued to encourage students to live King’s dream and finish their education and to also continue in their study of God’s word.
After closing remarks from Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Hine, students gathered in groups to pray for each other and discuss the service.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to come celebrate with my group of friends. This really showed that Liberty cares about us and the unity and development of the school,” junior Amara Costen said.
Other students were encouraged to keep living the dream as Jefferson suggested.
“His message inspires me to keep on pushing and keep the dream alive, to peacefully do something and change things and to move forward,” sophomore JD Mason said.