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Stanford Report, January 19, 2000

MLK celebration closes with Bernice King, Rustin events

A keynote address by the Rev. Bernice A. King, the youngest child of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and a symposium on Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington, are among the main events in the remaining week of the campus celebration of the civil rights leader.

Bernice King will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Kresge Auditorium. The Rustin symposium will take place Friday, Jan. 21, in the Tresidder Oak Room from noon until 3 p.m. The campus also will host a birthday party at noon Wednesday, Jan. 19, in the Tresidder Union Lounge.

Bernice King first came to public notice at age 5, when she was pictured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph that showed her sleeping in her mother's lap during funeral services for her slain father.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in Memorial Auditorium in April, 1967.

In 1980, at age 17, King spoke to the United Nations about apartheid. In 1988 she preached her first trial sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father had been pastor.

King earned an undergraduate degree in psychology at Spelman College and holds master of divinity and doctorate of law degrees from Emory University. She currently is assistant to the pastor at Greater Rising Star Baptist Church in Atlanta. King has published Hard Questions, Heart Answers, a book of sermons and speeches, and is an advocate for the rehabilitation of at-risk youth.

Bayard Rustin

Although he organized the historic March on Washington, Rustin was forced to work out of the spotlight because of his homosexuality.

Part I of the Jan. 21 symposium will feature screen footage of Rustin's debates with Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael that will be incorporated in a documentary film by graduate student Nancy Kates. In Part II of the symposium, Brian Freeman, founder of Pomo Afro Homos, an African American drama troupe, will perform scenes from Civil Sex, his play about Rustin's life. Jewelle Gomez, author of Gilda Stories, will discuss the effects of Rustin's activism on her writings as a lesbian in Part III of the symposium.

The King celebration began Jan. 9 with an interfaith service featuring a sermon by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of five organizers, with Martin Luther King, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Shuttlesworth, now a minister in Cincinnati, talked about his experiences facing down Southern racists, including having his home bombed twice. He encouraged the congregation at Memorial Church use their power to work for change.

"Good soldiers don't worry about how they're going to eat and how they're going to live," said Shuttlesworth, now 78, who said he hadn't expected to live past the age of 40.

Other King celebration events have included a panel discussion on the impact of Freedom Summer 1964, when college students traveled south to assist grass roots civil rights organizers, and the showcase of a new photo and document collection at the Martin Luther King Papers Project. SR