College to host variety of events celebrating MLK's legacy

Thursday, January 17, 2013

At Fort Scott Community College, Martin Luther King Jr. won't just be honored with a holiday, the slain civil rights leader will have a week of events devoted to his legacy.

"We have something for students and adults alike to celebrate not only Dr. King, but also our African-American history in Fort Scott," said Jill Warford, Gordon Parks Museum director.

Warford chairs a group of FSCC staff and community that organized the activities. Other members are Eula Crowder, Marion Stepps, Robert Nelson, Donna Estill, Maria Bahr, Janet Braun and Kathleen Hinrichs.

Warford said the group has been working on the events for six to eight months and it is likely the largest celebration the college has hosted.

On Monday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m., "Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." will be an evening of observance with speakers, music, poetry, and dance. Speaker will be the Rev. George Proctor of United Missionary Baptist Church, and singers and poets from the college and other area schools will be featured. The free event will be held in the Ellis Fine Arts Center Theater and includes a reception after program.

Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, the film series "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years" will be shown. The Emmy Award-winning, multi-part documentary tells the story of the civil rights era "from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life," a news release said.

"Eyes on the Prize" features exclusive interviews plus historical footage of King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, the Little Rock school riots, Montgomery Transit Boycott and more. Each film lasts about an hour. A short discussion following each film will be led by Estill, FSCC dean of instruction.

The schedule follows:

9 a.m.: "Awakenings" (1954--1956) -- Murder of Emmett Till/Montgomery Bus Boycott

10:30 a.m.: "Fighting Back" (1957--1962) -- Central High School and the Little Rock Nine/James Meredith and the University of Mississippi.

Noon: "Ain't Scared of Your Jails" (1960--1961) -- Nashville sit-ins and boycotts/Freedom Riders

1:30 p.m.: "No Easy Walk" (1961--1963) --Albany, Ga./Birmingham, Ala./The March on Washington

3 p.m.: "Mississippi: Is This America?" (1962--1964) -- Medgar Evers/"Mississippi Burning" Murders

From noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 23, Fort Scott area service clubs will gather at the Ellis Fine Arts Center meeting rooms for a luncheon presentation on "Fort Scott African-American Heritage-Professor E.J. Hawkins."

The public is invited to attend. A lunch buffet will be available for $7 per person and brown bags are also welcome. This presentation will focus on Hawkins, a longtime Fort Scott educator, who has been posthumously inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame as one of the members of the class of 2013.

Hawkins was the principal and a teacher at the Plaza School in Fort Scott. In 1921, he organized a basketball league in eastern Kansas for African-American high-school students because the high-school extracurricular programs were segregated at the time. He founded and coached the Fort Scott Whirlwinds, which played in that league.

In 28 years of existence, the Whirlwinds won 378 of 420 games played. From 1923-1927, they won 67 straight games, eight state championships and received national recognition. Presenters will include historians Arnold Schofield, Don Miller and Fred Campbell, former Whirlwinds member Roy Colum, Anne Colum, Elouise Young, Kirk Sharp and Warford.

"MLK Open Mic Night" is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Gordon Parks Museum. Open to all ages, participants may bring a poem, a rap, dramatic reading, testimony, song, or anything that celebrates King, diversity, Gordon Parks, or civil rights.

Refreshments will be provided and master of ceremonies will be Pechone Stepps.

Judges include Sharp, LaTisha Kelley and Trenton Stepps. Cash prizes of $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third place will be awarded.

For more information, call FSCC at 223-2700, ext. 5850.ꆱ