James H. Ammons, chancellor of North Carolina Central University, will deliver the keynote address Wednesday, Jan. 18, as Western Carolina University holds special events to honor the memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Ammons will speak on King’s life as part of a program sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor. The program, to begin at 7 p.m. in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center, is open to the public and free of charge. The event features musical selections by Western’s Inspirational Choir and will be followed by a reception.
A native of Winter Haven, Fla., Ammons graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida A&M University. The American Political Science Association awarded him a Minority Graduate Fellowship, and Ammons went on to Florida State University to earn a master’s degree in public administration and, at the age of 24, a doctorate in government. Before he became the chancellor at N.C. Central in 2001, he developed more than 22 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at Florida A&M as provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Other events organized as part of Western’s “In the Spirit of Unity and Service – Remember! Celebrate! Act!” include vigils, community service, a dramatic production of “My Soul Is a Witness,” and visits from the first black mayor of Asheville and a co-producer of “Eyes On The Prize.”
• 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 — Town of Sylva unity march and candlelight vigil will begin in the parking lot of Mill and Main streets.
• 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16 — Prayer breakfast featuring guest speaker Terry Bellamy, the first black mayor of Asheville, will be at the Golden Age Center in downtown Sylva. Cost of the breakfast is $5.
• 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16 — Western’s Multicultural Center is coordinating a community service activity themed “A Day On, Not A Day Off” at the Community Table in Sylva.
• 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16 — Candlelight vigil and unity march begins at the University Center theater and ends at the Ramsey Center, where the Inspirational Choir will perform during halftime of the Lady Cats’ basketball game against Georgia Southern.
• 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 — Visiting art lecturer Marie T. Cochran will talk in Room 130 of the Fine and Performing Arts Center about artists’ representations of Martin Luther King Jr.
• 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 — “The Civil Rights Movement: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going,” panel discussion and showing of film “King: From Montgomery to Memphis ” will be held in the University Center theater.
• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 — Civil rights leader Judy Richardson will speak in the University Center theater about her experiences on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and work on the film “Eyes on the Prize” as relevant to today’s struggles. The presentation is part of the Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series.
• 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 – A spoken word and poetry slam centered on reflections of the life and legacy of King will be held at the University Center.
• 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 — A traveling troupe will perform the play “My Soul Is A Witness” at Western’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. The play, part of the Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series, vividly retells moments from assassinations to debates about non-violent protests. Admission is $7 for the general public, $5 for Western faculty and staff and $3 for Western students.
For more information, contact the Multicultural Center at (828) 227-2276. Western will be closed Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.