Lehigh’s MLK Committee to Host 50th Anniversary Event


In one of the last events of the academic year that is organized by the Lehigh University MLK Committee, members of the campus community and beyond will be welcomed into Packer Memorial Chapel for an hour-long service to note the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

In 1968, King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, by a sniper later identified as James Earl Ray. It was one of series of shocking events in a year marked by tumult, beginning with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and including the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the bloody protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

To honor King and his extraordinary impact–even five decades after his death–MLK Committee organizers sought to create a forum for anyone from the Lehigh community to feel free to share a King-inspired quote, poem or piece to read or perform. Each speaker will have one to three minutes. No prior registration will be required to speak at the ceremony.

"The 50th anniversary of King's death presents us with a moment to remember how important King's life and influence has been to the American experience and to the cause of racial and social justice in the United States,” said MLK Co-chair Lloyd Steffen, professor of religion studies and University Chaplain. “The anniversary focuses attention again on King, and that is always a good thing to do, and our MLK Committee thought we should provide an opportunity for our Lehigh community to remember and celebrate the King legacy of peace and nonviolent resistance to injustice. We hope members of the Lehigh community will join us at noon and offer a few minutes of remembrance and tribute, however they choose to do that."

The event will be followed by a public march later that day that is being organized by the Bethlehem Chapter of the NAACP. The march will begin at Parow Plaza at City Hall, and proceed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Park on Carlton Avenue in South Bethlehem.

A national bell ringing organized by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and the King Center will note the moment of King’s death. Beginning at 6:01 p.m. CST, bells will be tolled at the Lorraine Motel site. At 6:03 p.m. CST, bells will ring throughout Memphis, followed by bells tolling across the country at 6:05 p.m. CST.  The passage of the minutes between the tolling will replicate the way news of King’s assassination reached the nation in 1968.

For more information on this tribute, go to http://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/mlk50-bell-toll.

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