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A week of Martin Luther King Jr. events kicks off Wednesday

The Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center kicked off a week of Martin Luther King Jr. events Wednesday night with a celebration at Mershon Auditorium.

The keynote speaker was Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Radio One, the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the nation. In January 2004, her company launched a cable channel, TV One.

“Cathy Hughes is one of those powerful people in the media,” said Lawrence Williamson Jr., director of the Hale Center. “She’s a voice for the community.”

The celebration — a collaboration of the Hale Center, Radio One, Columbus State Community College and the City of Columbus — also featured the Africa-American Voices Gospel Choir from Ohio State.

Although the holiday is Monday, the Hale Center has events planned for the entire week.

“This is normally the opening program not only for the Ohio State University, but for the city of Columbus,” Williamson said.

Students, faculty and staff can honor the life and legacy of King Monday by participating in the MLK Day of Service, a campus-wide community service event. Hundreds of people participate normally, Williamson said.
“It’s a day of service. It’s not a day off; it’s a day on.”

There will also be a march starting from the Hale Center Monday at 2:30 p.m. Williamson said the march will go from campus to downtown, where it will join the larger march that the city is hosting.

The week will conclude with the first MLK Blood Drive.

“We have a blood drive to give back because we have so many people that have health issues, conditions and problems,” Williamson said.

The goal of the Hale Center’s planning is to make a strong impact on people that would traditionally not observe King’s legacy.

“Our goal is to bring in great speakers at a reasonable price that can maximize our student population, our faculty, staff and community — that they can get something out of it,” Williamson said.

While the standard fee for Hughes to speak at an event such as the celebration Monday would normally be about $20,000, Williamson said the Hale Center and the other sponsors of the event got a deal.

“We’re certainly not paying that much,” Williamson said, “but with all the entities and things that we have, our range is roughly between $5,000 and $12,000.”

Chakir Underdown, a fourth-year in international studies and one of the recipients of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarships at the celebration, said she annually participates in the MLK events hosted by the Hale Center.

“Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and goals resonate with me everyday,” Underdown said. 

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