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Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Let Freedom Ring!

The Let Freedom Ring Celebration at the Kennedy Center

Celebration to Honor Bread for the City's George Jones; Natalie Cole to Perform

Georgetown University’s annual Let Freedom Ring Initiative honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., through celebration and dialogue examining King’s life and work.  All are invited to participate in these events.

On January 19, 2015, this year's Let Freedom Ring Celebration will be held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.  At the event, The John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award will be presented to George Jones, chief executive officer of Bread for the City and longtime advocate for the fight against poverty in Washington, D.C.  Bread for the City serves vulnerable city residents with comprehensive services including food, clothing, medical care and legal and social services.

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Natalie Cole will perform a musical tribute honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., with the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by Rev. Nolan Williams, Jr.  

To read more about this year's awardee, please click here.

For details on this year's celebration at the Kennedy Center, please click here.

2015 Schedule of Events

Thursday, January 15 – Conversation and Reception with Justin Hansford
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM, Philodemic Room, 208 Healy Hall
Please arrive early. Seats are limited.

St. Louis University professor and Georgetown University alum Justin Hansford will engage in conversation with Georgetown faculty member, Dr. Robert Patterson.

Professor Hansford will share his experiences and engagement in Ferguson, M.O. and his perspective on the movement that is emerging nationally and globally, including at places like the United Nations. Professor Hansford will discuss the role that lawyers are playing to address the events that took place over the fall and the circumstances in Ferguson. This event takes place on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and provides a moment to reflect on the previous civil rights movements in light of today’s efforts to promote equality and racial justice.

For more information about the event and the speakers, please click here.

Saturday, January 17 – MLK Day of Service
9:30 AM – 4:30 PM

The MLK Day of Service brings together hundreds of members of the Georgetown University community and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School network to engage in various service projects, from creating care packages for NIH Children’s Inn, to sandwich making for Martha’s Table, to working with the elderly at Carver 2000, and more! All participants will end the day by reflecting on their experiences, and coming together for a community lunch and celebration at Cesar Chavez at Parkside.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
For more information and to register, visit:

Sunday, January 18 – Georgetown Martin Luther King, Jr. Week Spiritual Service
5:30 PM, Saint William Chapel

Join fellow members of the Georgetown University community in celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy at the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Spiritual Service. Held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled weekly Gospel service, the event will feature a guest preacher who will deliver remarks on Dr. King’s enduring legacy.

Monday, January 19 – Nonviolent Conflict Intervention and Peace Teams Advanced Training Workshop
9:30 AM – 5:30 PM, ICC 103

Georgetown University’s Program on Justice and Peace invites you to RSVP for a full-day advanced training in nonviolent protection and intervention. Participants will learn and practice the primary strategies and skills that constitute “the force more powerful” that nonviolence can be.

RSVP required. Space is limited. For more information, please click here. To RSVP please send an email including your NetID and campus affiliation to Professor Eli McCarthy at

Monday, January 19 – The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University present Let Freedom Ring! featuring Natalie Cole
6:00 PM, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Georgetown and the Kennedy Center celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at one of D.C.’s largest free MLK celebrations. The event features Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole and the 2015 “Let Freedom Ring” Choir, directed by Rev. Nolan Williams, as well as the John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award, presented to George Jones, CEO of Washington, D.C.’s Bread for the City.

Free. Ticket required. For more information, visit:

Tuesday, January 20 – MLK Prayer for Peace and Justice
3:50 PM – 4:00 PM, Dahlgren Quad

The Georgetown University community is invited to gather with the Chaplains of Georgetown University for a time of prayer for justice and peace in our country and across the world.

Ongoing – MLK Student, Faculty, and Staff Reflections

In lieu of the 2015 MLK reflection event, we have decided to take a new approach in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This new approach will allow us to create a history and leave a legacy as it pertains to our Georgetown Community reflectors/reflections. Starting now and throughout the year we are asking participants to submit a written reflection that will be published online to a website that will be announced within the coming weeks. Next year when the 2016 Student, Faculty and Staff Reflection event resumes, selected reflectors will be asked to share their 2015 MLK Reflection piece. Once submitted, your piece will appear live on the website, with the possibility of being selected to be in print for the MLK 2016 Reflection publication.

We ask that your submitted reflections for 2015 be based on the speech, "The Other America" by Dr. King. This speech was first delivered at Stanford University on April 14, 1967.  Click here to access the text and a video of the great Dr. Martin Luther King delivering this speech.

Please send your reflection piece to

We look forward to your reflection and hope that we inspire you to reflect now and throughout the year on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the impact he has had on us all.

Ongoing – Georgetown MLK Week Spotlight: Bread for the City
Healy Hall Foyer

Visit Healy Hall the week of January 19 to see highlights of the work of 2015 John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream award winner George Jones and his organization, Bread for the City. The mission of Bread for the City is to provide vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.

Ongoing – 2015 MLK Curriculum Infusion Project

Throughout the early months of the semester, faculty from across campus will be deepening students' understandings and levels of engagement with Dr. King’s life and legacy through the 2015 MLK Curriculum Infusion Project. Faculty who have agreed to participate in the Initiative have committed to teaching Dr. King’s 1968 speech “The Other America” and to incorporating conversations that connect this document to our contemporary context and the academic life of our community.

Ongoing – Georgetown Staff & Faculty Volunteer Program

Our commitment to our local community, and to living out Dr. King’s legacy of service to that community, is not limited to one day each year. We are proud of the work our students, faculty and staff do to further the common good in our community throughout the year. And, as part of our effort to deepen and strengthen this engagement and to live out our role as an anchor institution in the District of Columbia, we are pleased to announce the launch of a formal volunteer program for faculty and staff.

In the time ahead, we look forward to announcing more information about this program, which will facilitate service opportunities of varying duration and type with our community partners. Please visit the website for more details.

Georgetown and the March on Washington

During last year's celebration week of the Georgetown University Let Freedom Ring Initiative, members of the Georgetown community shared their experiences from the March on Washington and their personal interactions with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) offered special introductory remarks, while Prof. Richard America, Rev. Raymond Kemp, SJ, Prof. Deborah Tannen, and Rabbi Harold White shared reflections during a panel discussion.

Legacy of a Dream Award

Each year during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration week, the University presents The John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to an individual or organization whose contributions to community service or social justice reflect the values and ideals of Dr. King.

Past Recipients

2014 - Lecester Johnson, Academy of Hope

2013 - Mary Brown, Life Pieces to Masterpieces

2012 - Professor Clarence Jones

2011 - Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery

2010 - Dikembe Mutombo, Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, Inc.

2009 - Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund

2008 - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

2007 - Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS

2006 - Mrs. Rosa Parks (posthumous)

2005 - Colin and Alma Powell

2004 - William H. Gray III, president and CEO, UNCF

2003 - Coach John Thompson, Georgetown University Men's Basketball (1972-1999)


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