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Creighton Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. With Week of Activities

"Everyone Counts" is the theme of a week-long series of events which will be held at Creighton University to celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The celebration begins with award presentations and remarks by Creighton president, Timothy R. Lannon,S.J., at 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 16, and continues with a unity prayer luncheon with keynote speaker Joseph A. Brown, S.J., Ph.D., professor and director of Black American Studies at Southern Illinois University, at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18. Reservations are required for the luncheon and must be made by Jan. 11. For reservations, call 402.280.2646 or email mlking@creighton.edu. A film presentation, “Bringing King to China,” will take place Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Harper Center auditorium and a noon concert is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 20. All events take place on campus and are free and open to the public.

Additional details on individual events:

  • Monday, Jan. 16, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration - 4 p.m. in the Mike and Josie Harper Center for Student Life and Learning, Hixson-Lied Auditorium, 602 N. 20th St. The community is invited to attend the celebration, which will include remarks by Creighton president, Timothy R. Lannon, S.J.; a presentation of community and student awards; and recognition of a University-sponsored elementary school poster and essay contest.

    Award presentations will include the President's Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award to Beth Katz, founder and executive director of Project Interfaith, and Willie Barney, president and facilitator of the Empowerment Network.

    Katz, a 2000 Creighton graduate and recipient of the 2008Alumni Merit Award, created Project Interfaith as a non-profit organization that would help create a world in which people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures are valued, included and protected. It offers original, inspiring programs that educate and engage groups on issues of faith, religion, identity, belief and culture. Katz also serves as a presenter at local, national and international events, is an adjunct professor, writes a monthly column on Omaha.net, and is on several Omaha boards and committees.

    Founded in 2006, Omaha’s Empowerment Network is a group of leaders, residents and organizations who work together to facilitate positive, measurable and dramatic change in the north Omaha community. Activities support the seven identified priorities of employment and entrepreneurship; education and youth development; sustainable neighborhoods; faith and hope; violence intervention and prevention; health and health families; and arts, culture, history, media and communications. The network has collaborated with the city of Omaha, the Alliance Building Communities coalition, Holy Name Housing, the Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Family Housing Advisory Services, and others, on collaborative projects designed to benefit the north Omaha community, especially.

    President and Facilitator Willie Barney brings a formal education in economics and business, as well as 20 years of experience in strategic planning, marketing and community building to the network. He serves on numerous Omaha area boards and committees.

    Other awards include Student Leadership Awards, presented to Creighton students who put into practice the ideals of Dr. King, and campus awards for diversity excellence and innovation.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, Unity Prayer Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., at the Harper Center ballroom, with inspirational speaker Joseph A. Brown, S.J., Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Africana Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Rev. Brown has an extensive academic and pastoral career including teaching at Creighton, the University of Virginia and Xavier University. In the fall of 2009 he was the holder of the MacLean Chair of Jesuit Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Joseph’s University of Philadelphia. Active as a lecturer in the areas of Africa and African-American spirituality, history and culture, he periodically serves as a liturgical consultant to communities in the United States. A prolific writer, he has written several books and published numerous articles. And in the spring of 2009, his book The Sun Whispers, Wait: New and Collected Poems, was published by Brown Turtle Press.

    Also presented at the luncheon is the Martin Luther King Drum Major Award, presented to an individual who serves as an advocate for social justice and brings the community together by promoting collaboration among diverse groups. Syed Mohiuddin, M.D., chair of medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine and a member of the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture in Omaha, will receive the award. Through the Tri-Faith Initiative, Mohiuddin played a vital role in plans to construct a synagogue, a mosque and a church alongside one another, along with a fourth interfaith structure, something that is unique to Omaha. In 2009, Mohiuddin also helped to increase healthcare at the Benson Community Health Center. He led the Creighton staff to offer onsite community education and health screening programs.

  • Friday, Jan. 20, a “Cake and Choir” concert will be held at noon at the V.J. and Angela Skutt Student Center. This musical celebration features cake and gospel music performed by local artists and musicians.

Pictured: Joseph A. Brown, S.J., Ph.D.