WCU to host legendary football coach as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Week events

A scene from last year's unity march around the campus.

A scene from last year’s unity march around the campus.


Western Carolina University will welcome legendary football coach Herman Boone as the keynote speaker for its annual weeklong series of events to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 16, established as a federal holiday to honor King and observed for the first time in 1986. WCU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Week will be held from Jan. 16 to Saturday, Jan. 21. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work toward equality and use of nonviolent protests, King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Coach Herman Boone

Coach Herman Boone

Boone was the inspiration for the movie “Remember the Titans,” starring Denzel Washington and based on the true story of the integration of the T.C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. Boone will speak Thursday, Jan. 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the A.K. Hinds University Center Grandroom. He grew up in Rocky Mount, the site of one of the earliest versions of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

A MLK Week highlight will be a showing of “Remember the Titans” in a dinner and a movie event Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Illusions in the University Center.

Other events planned as part of the celebration:

  • Unity March: Marching with a Purpose at 2 p.m. Jan. 16, with members of Nu Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. fraternity at the university’s Central Plaza fountain.
  • Soul Food for the Soul at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan.17, in Illusions as the Black Student Union and NAACP create a historic timeline of African-American contributions to the performing arts with poetry, songs, painting and culinary delights.
    Kyla Lacey

    Kyla Lacey

  • Step Afrika! With Kyla Lacey at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, with a performance by the renowned dance company featuring styles historically practiced by African-American fraternities and sororities, African traditional dance and influences from a variety of other dance and art forms at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. The troupe will be joined by Lacey, a spoken-word artist and poet.
  • MLK Day of Service on Jan. 16 and 21, with a variety of projects throughout the day, coordinated by the WCU Center for Service Learning. For more information, contact Jennifer Cooper, the center’s assistant director, at jacooper@wcu.eduor 828-227-2595.

University administrative offices will be closed Jan. 16 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. For more information about Martin Luther King Jr. Week at WCU, go to http://www.wcu.edu/experience/connect-and-join/intercultural-affairs/mlkjr.aspx.