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MLK Day events recognize 60th anniversary of iconic speech

Students, staff and faculty reflect on famous “I Have A Dream" speech.

Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078 | 

MLK Event 2023 for students

Lipscomb’s 2022 celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16 featured reflections on King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” which marked 60 years since it was presented at the Lincoln Memorial.

Faculty and staff gathered for a special chapel service on Jan. 12 to hear thoughts from:

  • Special Counsel to the President for Diversity, Equity and Belonging William Turner.
  • Lipscomb President Candice McQueen;
  • Student Shythaly Herrera;
  • Director of the Office of Intercultural Development Candace Williams,
  • Chair of Psychology and Family Therapy Douglas Ribeiro; and 
  • Newly appointed Faculty Affiliate of Preaching and Christian Leadership Dr. Orpheus Heyward, who is also senior minister at Renaissance Church of Christ in Atlanta, Ga.
Gospel Choir performing

The event was also highlighted by a performance of spirituals by the Lipscomb student Gospel Choir.

Learn more about the choir's first released single, now on all streaming services and YouTube.


Lipscomb student at MLK Joint Service Day

On Saturday, Jan. 14, 43 Lipscomb students joined those from American Baptist, Nashville State and Meharry Medical colleges and Belmont, Fisk, Vanderbilt, Trevecca and Tennessee State universities, for the 12th annual MLK Joint Service Day.

Students reading in chapel

The weekly student chapel, The Gathering, featured a reading of the entire “I Have a Dream Speech” by selected students.

In the student weekly chapel, The Gathering, on Jan. 17, students heard a reading of the entire “I Have a Dream Speech” by selected students: Saxon Brown, Teria Tibbs, Knoelle Antley, Strel Shear, Wesley Joseph, Kasen Holt and Edmund Zhu.

Candace Williams sharing her reflection.

Candace Williams sharing her reflection.

During the employee meeting, Turner and McQueen reviewed the inspiring history of the speech, presented in Washington D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963, to a crowd of about a quarter million people gathered to protest racial discrimination and to show support for civil rights legislation.

McQueen charged the group to “ask yourself what you can do to help his dream become our collective dream and a reality … for hope of a future with equality and freedom for all.”

Herrera, a sophomore majoring in law, justice and society, said that King’s dream, of a world where children are not judged "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," influenced her own dream to become an attorney and represent underheard voices.

“The speech in itself is incredibly moving, and reminds me of the attitude and demeanor I should carry once facing an issue placed before me,” she said in her reflection.

Orpheus Heyward speaks at MLK event

Orpheus Heyward was the keynote speaker at the faculty and staff MLK celebration.

With the experiences of her grandparents and parents in mind, Williams noted: “Those words from Dr. King are just as relevant today, as they were 60 years ago.

“I am challenged today to dream not just for myself, or my future children, but for all, and to understand that it will take all of us to make our country better for all, because the dream is still alive in each of us. The question is, are we bold enough to dream it and are we bold enough to make that dream a reality,” she said.

And finally, Heyward presented the metaphor of Jesus’ washing the feet of the 12 disciples, equating the dirty towel used to wash their feet with the servant heart Christians need to nurture today.

“May I suggest that at Lipscomb, and all across the world, that we start getting our towels dirty,” said Heyward. “Not choosing whose feet we want to wash, but to wash the feet of even people who are malignant toward us. So that God, when He comes back will say, welcome into the kingdom. And thank you for your dirty towel.”