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February 16, 2024

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Keeping a dream alive

Nearly 40 years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., the University plans to honor his legacy by welcoming to campus a renowned political figure who worked closely with the slain civil rights leader.

Rev. Jesse Jackson will be coming to the University to reflect on his personal experiences with King and discuss how his dream can best be carried on into the 21st century.

Jackson’s speech, ‘Honoring His Dream’hellip; Making It Our Reality,’ will be presented on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Union. Tickets for the event are free of charge and will be available beginning Jan. 16 at the information desk in the Union.

The human rights advocate and famed orator has had a long and distinguished career. Jackson has worked with national and global leaders, has been a best selling author and twice ran for president of the United States.

But his career first began

during the tumultuous era of the civil rights movement where he became a leader of the Southern Christen Leadership Conference, working closely with King to help protest racial inequality and segregation.

‘Because he worked directly with Dr. King it just makes him a natural choice for us,’ said Albert Dzur, assistant professor of political science and a member of the Martin Luther King Legacy committee responsible for bringing Jackson to campus.

‘Jesse Jackson is one of the strongest proponents of King’s message today,’ Dzur said. ‘He is an electrifying public speaker who has been committed to racial justice and economic justice his entire career.’

In addition to reflecting on his experience with King, Jackson will also comment on contemporary issues and how King’s message can be applied today.

‘He has a close connection in terms of working with civil rights issues and those issues have not gone away or been thoroughly addressed in modern times,’ said Bettina Shuford, committee chair and director of the center for multicultural and academic initiatives.

‘He has a pulse on things that are happening nationally and globally,’ Shuford said. ‘Students can gain prospective from him.’

But an appearance by such a renowned figure does not come cheap; the committee will spend roughly $18,000 of University funds and donations in order to bring him to campus.

But according to organizers, such a high price tag is not uncommon.

‘It’s actually very reasonable. A lot of your national speaker fees are much higher, ranging form $20,000 to $30,000 or even $50,000 and beyond,’ said Jeff Coats, associate dean in charge of the office of campus involvement and committee member.

‘We’re actually getting him at less than his usual rate,’ Coats said.

‘$18,000 is a great deal for Bowling Green.’

According to Dzur, an appearance by Jackson is worth every cent.

‘I think the most galvanizing public speech I heard as a student was one by Jesse Jackson,’ he said. ‘It really captured for me the essence of a political figure who really transcends partisanship. He speaks to what it means to be an American and to do justice during difficult times.’

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