Hampton University Concert Choir honors Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Phillip Jackson

This weekend, people across the nation will be celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here at Hampton University, HU's concert choir will be recognizing the life and contributions of King through song and performance. The celebration will be held at Hampton University Memorial church, 4 p.m. Sunday.

"The celebration from us actually has been occurring for some years," said Romeo Garcia, a senior music major from Greenville, North Carolina. "It's actually coming back after a decent hiatus."

The celebration for King led by Hampton University's concert choir comes just two days after his birthday and one day before the national observation of the holiday.

Hampton University's concert choir, conducted by Omar J. Dickenson, look to perform "four to five songs," according to Garcia. "Specifically, 'Oh Holy Lord,' 'How Great Thou Art,' 'Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord,' 'We Shall Overcome,' and 'Dream and climb.'"

Hampton's choir will not be the only selected group set to recognize the work of King. The Crusaders Male Chorus, conducted by John H. Wickham, will also perform, along with The Christian Fellowship Choir of First Baptist Church, conducted by Effie T. Gardner.

This is not the first time the Hampton University choir has performed with other selected choirs in the Hampton Roads area. In 2006, Hampton University's Department of Music and the Hampton Choirs presented the annual Martin Luther King, Jr.

Freedom Concert: Music by African-American Composers in Ogden Hall. According to HU NEWS, the concert showcased music that was composed and arranged by African-Americans, and conducted by former maestro of Hampton Concert choir, Royzell L. Dillard.

The event that year also featured a performance by Norfolk, Virginia's I. Sherman Green Chorale, which is the only professional, all African-American chorus in the Hampton Roads area, along with the Woodside High School Meistersingers, directed by Jason Dungee.

Two years later the Hampton University concert choir held another Freedom Concert under Dillard, which also encompassed guest performances from Woodside High School and St. Augustine College Concert choir, then under maestro Eric Poole.

King's close ties to Hampton University were documented. His mother, Alberta Williams King, graduated from Hampton Institute in 1924. King also visited the campus of Hampton.

In 2003, his son, Martin Luther King III, visited the Hampton Roads area and was scheduled to attend a reception at Hampton University Museum, Ogden Circle.

Whether it is at a protest to #ReclaimMLK or a service being held in honor of his former preaching at churches Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama or Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta; there will be many celebrations and rallies in light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the weekend leading into it.

On the actual national observation date on Monday, Hampton University will also hold a march on campus in recognition of King's Civil Rights work beginning at 10 a.m. in front of Emancipation Oak.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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