January 18, 2024
Asbury students, staff, and faculty sponsored and attended a table at the 30th Annual Unity Celebration “to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his ideals for peace and unity.” Sponsored by the Alpha Beta Lambda Chapter Education Foundation Inc., the event at the Central Bank Center included breakfast, a lighting ceremony, congregational singings and readings, and an invocation by Rev. Alex Kinchen (Pastor, The Gathering Place).
“This event is an incredible opportunity for us to learn about the life and impact of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Rev. Dr. Esther Jadhav, who serves as Associate Vice President for Intercultural Affairs & Spiritual Development. “His life was caught up in something greater and beyond himself, and he believed in the power of the Gospel for the redemption of his people and for the creation of a just human community.”
Asbury University has sponsored this event for more than 20 years with previous speakers including Jadhav and President Emeritus Dr. Sandra Gray with several Asbury students reading the litany for the unity candle lighting and presenting on themes from King’s life.
“We joined 1,300 individuals who braved the snow and icy temperatures to join in the early morning hours for fellowship, prayers, music, and inspiration,” said Associate Professor of ESL Dr. Christel Broady. “The event reminded me of the work that was achieved and the work that is still before us to achieve racial equality in this country. Most of all, joining hands and hearts at the breakfast reminded me that each one of us must be an agent of change towards equity and inclusion in our own niche of the world and life.”
In Jessamine County, Asbury members celebrated King’s life at the Wilmore United Methodist Church. Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Jim Shores and Theatre Lecturer Carol Anderson served on the planning committee of the Nicholasville Care Network, which provides support for African-American K-12 students.
Shores worked with Rev. Anthony Givens (Cedar Top Baptist Church) and Anna Kenion (Jessamine Co. Health Dept.) to coordinate the breakfast and speaker, Pastor Marland Fain (Cedar Top Baptist Church). Anderson worked with Professor of History Carolyn Dupont (Eastern Kentucky University) to put together excerpts from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which was performed as a dramatic reading by students and adults, including Ciara Johnson ’27.
“The event was so much fun and so meaningful,” Shores said. “There was so much hope and love in the room as we (black and white) celebrated King’s legacy, his love, and his call to work together for freedom, unity, and justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was a prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. Born in Atlanta, Ga., King advocated for racial equality through nonviolent means. His pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and iconic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington solidified his legacy. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King’s tragic assassination in 1968 marked a profound loss, but his vision for justice and equality continues to inspire generations.