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Marshall plans two MLK Jr. events

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's Office of Multicultural Affairs is hosting two events to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday, Jan. 21.

The first event is at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Marie Redd Senior Center, 1750 9th Ave., Huntington. It will be a Sunday supper with senior citizens and military families and include discussion. Sponsors include Sodexo Catering, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The supper is open to senior citizens, military families, Marshall students and the community at large. The goal is to learn about issues the public is facing and how the sorority can help.

Monday is the inauguration of President Obama, and Marshall will hold no formal events on that day, said Shari Clarke, vice president of Multicultural Affairs.

The university's big event is in February, combining Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Legacy Awards Luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the multipurpose room in the basement of Marshall's Memorial Student Center.

The luncheon will include a recognition of the inaugural Living the Legacy Award recipients and will feature keynote speaker Sheyann Webb-Christburg, known as Dr. King's smallest freedom fighter.

Webb-Christburg, 56, is the author of "Selma, Lord, Selma: Girlhood Memories of the Civil Rights Days" and took part in the first attempted Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala., march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge when she was 9 years old.

According to her biography, she and a childhood friend were playing outside when they noticed a car drive up at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church with several nicely-dressed Negro men.

They walked over not knowing who was in the car and were introduced to Martin Luther King Jr. They were told that he had come to Selma, Ala., to help the Negro people get voting rights.

Each night when mass meeting were held at the church, Webb-Christburg would sneak out of her house to attend the meetings. She would also lead the congregation in singing freedom songs. She even began skipping school to attend demonstrations, despite warnings from her parents.

On Sunday, March 7, 1965, she was the youngest person to attempt to march to Montgomery. As they left Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, she walked near the back with her teacher.

Once the marchers had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge they were ordered to turn back. When they refused, they were chased by deputies on horseback, beat with billy clubs, and tear-gassed. As she was running back with the other marchers to Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, she was picked up by Rev. Hosea Williams, who was one of the leaders of the march.

To attend the Feb. 6 luncheon, please RSVP by Jan. 30, by contacting Clarke at 304-696-4677 or clarkes@marshall.edu.