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Old Dominion’s MLK Day Observance to Feature Five Hampton Roads Leaders

Photo of Martinl Luther King Jr.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd gathered in Washington D.C. for the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

Old Dominion University's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, featuring five noted Hampton Roads community leaders, will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the North Café of Webb Center.

The annual program, which comes two days after the MLK Day holiday on Jan. 20, when the university is closed, has adopted the theme of "A Legacy of Service Through the Eyes of Community Leaders of Hampton Roads." The theme recognizes the lifetime of service that King performed for the betterment of society.

This will be ODU's 30th annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The program is held each year to honor King for his work in civil rights and all the changes in society that occurred as a result.

Each of the five community leaders, who will speak briefly during the program, fits this year's theme, said Cecelia Tucker, ODU assistant to the president for community relations.

"We honor a towering figure in American history by working each day to make the world a better and more just place. These five individuals represent the ideals of hard work and compassion that Dr. King espoused," Tucker said.

The speakers are:

  • Dr. L.D. Britt, physician, Brickhouse Professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School; former president of the American College of Surgeons; and former president of the Southern Surgical Association;
  • Christine Mann Darden, retired director of the Aero Performing Center Program Management Office at NASA Langley Research Center;
  • Jack L. Ezzell Jr., president and chief operating officer of Zel Technologies, LLC;
  • Maurice A. Jones, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and secretary-elect of commerce and trade for the commonwealth of Virginia; former publisher of The Virginian-Pilot; and
  • Dr. Patricia King, noted psychiatrist.

ODU will present the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy of Service Award to Britt before the Jan. 22 program, while each of the other speakers will receive the Hugo Owens Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award. This award recognizes individuals in the community whose lives mirror the principles of equality and humanity King fought for. The award's other namesake, Hugo Owens, was a former rector of the ODU Board of Visitors and a longtime champion of civil rights in Hampton Roads. (Britt is a past recipient of this award.)

The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are requested by Jan. 17: visit www.odu.edu/ao/univents (event code: MLK14) or call 683-3116.