A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Sienna Mae Heath
February 03, 2014

Northampton Community College marked the start of Black History Month with an artistic and spiritual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The community gathering featured music, drama, dance, literature, and a keynote speech by Dr. Marcia Theadford of the Agape Christian Church in Easton. Participants strove to righteously honor Dr. King and this year's Black History Month celebration theme, "This Far by Faith: Spirituality and the Civil Rights Movement." The event took place Saturday, February 1,  in Lipkin Theatre on Main Campus.

The performances and speech reflected the ongoing human experience of struggle, faith, and transformation. Agents of change in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, are a reflection of this experience.

"These were agents of change," Dr. Theadford said. "These were the men and women who came, who struggled, so that we could have this program."

The program began with a performance of "Messiah" by the gospel vocalists of UnityOne. Nine vocalists were accompanied by their keyboardist. The group also performed "He Knows My Name," "Hosanna," and "Be Lifted High."

Audrey Harvey, co-chair of the Black History Month committee, welcomed the audience.

"We do this because we want to keep Dr. King's principles alive, especially for this generation," Harvey said. "We have a lot of student participation."

NCC students Ivan Cruz and Jazmin Sanchez performed a scene from August Wilson's "Fences." Under the direction of Associate Professor Bill Mutimer, they depicted an argument between a husband and wife after he commits adultery.

After this expression of struggle, the NCC Poetry and Prose Contest winner, Daylan Hillyer, read aloud her uplifting prose "Long Live Faith."

"Without faith, the world would crumble beneath our feet," Hillyer read. "Your faith is yours and yours alone."

NCC's dance ensemble, Acta Non Verba, danced a piece called "Freedom" that reflected the struggles of the Underground Railroad. Choreographer and NCC dance instructor Tabatha Robinson-Scott dedicated the dance to Nelson Mandela.

Many agents of change during the Civil Rights Movement selflessly struggled to transform a nation. Dr. King transcended political and racial boundaries with his worldly perspective and his faith, Dr. Theadford said during her speech.

"His perspective included everyone," she said.

Dr. Theadford started the Black History Month committee when she was a member of the NCC counseling office. She connected her passion for students with her passion for faith in a speech that moved audience members. She told stories from her childhood, when she visited her grandparents in the South. She experienced and spoke out against racism. She weaved these stories with quotes from other agents of change like Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.

"When you understand your purpose, it will benefit others," she said. "Our agents of change were flowing in their purpose. Their faith was so contagious that it moved a nation."

While her speech began with a passionate portrayal of forerunners of the Civil Rights Movement, she ended by encouraging the audience to continue the movement.

 "We are the 21st century Civil Rights Movement," she said. "We are the agents of change."

The program concluded with an a cappella three-part harmony rendition of "This Far by Faith" sung by Erin Barclay (NCC),  and Shanique Dukes and Kayla Willis (Easton Area High School).

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