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Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration Announced

By Carol Best

December 11, 2013

MidAmerica Nazarene University’s 8th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will be held Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, at 9:30 a.m., at College Church of the Nazarene at 2020 E. Sheridan in Olathe. The public is invited to join students, faculty, staff and community leaders at this free event.

The featured speaker and recipient of the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Living Legacy Award is civil rights leader Dr. Charles Johnson. Johnson’s 52-year career as a minister and community leader in Meridian, Miss., put him in the path of the famous “Mississippi Burning” trial. As a key African American witness in the case, Johnson played an important role for the Federal Justice Department, offering clarity to the event that lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The founder of the Meridian Action Committee, the Opportunities Industrialization Center and pastor of Fitkin’s Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Meridian, Johnson shared a platform with Dr. King, traveled with Dr. King and lead a march through Meridian following King’s assassination in 1968. Johnson later received a presidential appointment to the National Manpower Board by President Jimmy Carter and served on Mississippi Governor Cliff Finch’s Colonel Staff.

Johnson’s civil rights experience is the subject of a new book by Chet Bush, Called to The Fire. Bush’s account of Johnson’s life is a story of love, conviction, adversity and redemption in the pursuit of God’s call and the fight for justice and equality. Author Chet Bush will hold a book signing at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 in MNU’s Mabee Library.

 MNU President Dr. David Spittal says Johnson is a fitting recipient of the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Living Legacy Award. The award was established by the university to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and the significant influence of his life on our nation.

"There is no greater cause to celebrate than our shared commitment to freedom and justice for all,” Spittal says. “We look forward to this event as an affirmation of that commitment."

MNU’s 2013-2014 Leader Scholars will be recognized at the event. MNU established the scholarship program for persons from diverse ethnicities who wish to emulate Dr. King’s passion for learning and servant leadership style. Leader Scholars are accountable for their leadership contributions on campus. 

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