Category: Community

Annual Community Celebration Honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life, Legacy

Dorothy Cotton, the only female member of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, executive staff and one of his closest confidants, delivers the keynote address at the 21st annual community celebration of the late civil rights leader Monday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.  The event is free and open to the public.

Dorothy Cotton

With the theme “Martin Luther King Jr.:  This Life and Legacy,” the celebration is presented by Lawrence University and Toward Community: Unity in Diversity with the support of numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals. The Post-Crescent is a media partner for the event.

The community celebration is in conjunction with Lawrence’s annual Martin Luther King “Day of Service,” which offers volunteer opportunities for students, faculty and staff.  Part of this year’s activities includes a report on the recent “Life Study of the Fox Cities” at 11:30 a.m. in the Warch Campus Center.

“Everyone wants to leave his or her own mark on the world as we strive to live a meaningful and purposeful life,” said Pa Lee Moua, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs at Lawrence.  “Once we are gone, we hope to be remembered as heroes. In my opinion, there is no greater hero than someone who fights for the rights of others. Martin Luther King Jr. is truly a hero who continues to teach us the true meaning of love, peace and social justice.

Moua credits her father for instilling in her many of the values embraced by Dr. King.

“As a very influential man in my life, my father told me, ‘Respect and reputation doesn’t come from being too rich, educated, or powerful; it comes from being a humanitarian. You will never regret giving your time to someone in need. And as you grow older, you will look back and forever cherish these experiences because you will have already made your mark on the world.’”

Cotton began making her mark in the early 1960s as the education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where she provided training for the disenfranchised on the importance of political participation, voter registration and nonviolent protest. In 1964, she accompanied King to Oslo, Norway, where he was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. Following King’s assassination, she served as the vice president for field operations for the Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and became Southern Regional Director for ACTION, the federal agency for volunteer programs.

A native of North Carolina, Cotton has addressed issues of race relations, multiculturalism/diversity, personal development and nonviolence education around the world. Following more than 20 years engaged in civil rights activities, Cotton spent 10 years as director of student activities at Cornell University. She also is one of the founding members of the National Citizenship School, which focuses creating publicly accountable institutions that reflect high democratic ideals and support individual capacity to live a meaningful life.

“Having Ms. Cotton as our keynote speaker is a rare and rich opportunity for the Fox Valley,” said Kathy Flores, chair of the MLK Planning Committee and diversity coordinator for the city of Appleton. “While many people participated in marches during the Civil Rights era, Ms. Cotton had the honor of working side-by-side with Dr. King as a member of his staff. We hope many members of the community take advantage of her appearance and come hear her share her real-life experiences with us.”

In addition to Cotton’s remarks, the King celebration will feature the presentation of the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Unity in Diversity Award. Given by Toward Community, the award honors an area individual who has made great strides in bringing different people in the community together.

The celebration also features readings by area student winners of the annual Martin Luther King essay contest and musical performances led by Tim and Ezra Dorsey and 2008 Lawrence graduate Erica Hamilton.

A sign language interpreter will be present for the program and a reception for all in attendance follows the event.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries. For more information visit www.lawrence.edu or follow us on Facebook.

Earthquake Relief Funds Heading to Haiti for Music School Reconstruction

Almost two years after a devastating earthquake leveled much of the island nation of Haiti, Lawrence University’s campaign to help rebuild the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince is taking shape.

The school, a long-time destination for Lawrence student and faculty volunteers, was destroyed by the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 Haitians. Nine days later, Lawrence hosted the “Concert for Haiti” which was recorded by Fox-11 WLUK and rebroadcast several times across Northeast Wisconsin.

The concert raised $32,000 through donations from the community and a recent gift from the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac pushed the overall total to more than $40,000. The funds are now being sent to Haiti to begin reconstruction efforts.

Tom Clowes '01 is one of numerous alumni who have traveled to Haiti to work with young music students there.

“Weeks after the earthquake, musicians from Holy Trinity began performing for displaced people living in makeshift tent cities. With this donation the music school will build a temporary rehearsal structure enabling work to go on even in inclement weather,” said Lawrence Professor of Cello Janet Anthony, who has traveled to Haiti annually to teach music. “Plans have been drawn up to rebuild the entire cathedral complex (cathedral, convent, elementary, trade and music schools, art museum, concert hall, administrative offices, guest house) but, even with the most optimistic estimates, the completion date is several years off. This donation marks the first large step in the process of rebuilding and is hugely important. The generosity of our local community is astounding, moving and extremely gratifying.”

The funds raised, with generous support from Fox-11 WLUK, the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, the American Red Cross and the Northeast Wisconsin community, are being used to build a temporary shelter in downtown Port-au-Prince that will house two rehearsal halls, a studio and an instrument depot, as well as office space at the school’s annex in nearby Petionville.

“This was a wonderful example of our community pulling together to collaborate for an important cause,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “Lawrence could not have done this alone. We are so grateful to our many community partners, especially to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region for stewarding the donated funds and to the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac for raising additional funds and coordinating with the diocese in Haiti to ensure the money is safely transferred to the school.”

Since 1996, Lawrence students and faculty have traveled to Haiti to teach at various music programs. The Holy Trinity Music School began in 1963 and slowly became one of the only institutions in Haiti to integrate children from all economic levels. At the time of the earthquake, more than 1,200 students attended the school with its five orchestras, three bands and the renowned Petits Chanteurs. Over the years, the music school has gained international acclaim, touring the United States several times.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.