Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2004

Cleaver to speak about King at Baker

February 5, 2004

The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II, former mayor of Kansas City, Mo., will present the keynote address as Baker University celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. at 11 a.m. Feb. 5 at Osborne Memorial Chapel on the Baker campus.

The event also kicks off the university's February celebration of Black History Month. The Rev. Ira DeSpain, minister to the university, said the King celebration brings outstanding African American voices to campus as the university remembers the Civil Rights struggles of the past. The celebration will include music, poetry, a candlelight vigil and dramatic readings presented by Baker students. The public is invited to attend.

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"The purpose is to highlight the contributions of a great American and a great Christian pastor for the struggle for human rights in America," DeSpain said. "Congress recognized that King's contribution to our country wasn't a contribution only for minorities but for freedom for all."

Cleaver has a master of divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology and is an ordained United Methodist minister. He has served as senior pastor of the 2,000-member St. James United Methodist Church for 25 years.

After serving 12 years on the Kansas City, Mo., City Council, Cleaver became the first African American mayor in Kansas City's history in 1991. He was re-elected to a second term in 1995. After leaving office, Cleaver served as a Special Urban Adviser to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In 1999, the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreations Commissioners named one of the longest streets in the city, "Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard."

As part of Black History Month, weekly chapel services will feature student presentations about the contribution of African Americans to American society.

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