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Area Universities slate MLK Jr. Day observances

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POTSDAM - The four St. Lawrence County universities will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and honor the life of the civil rights icon with music, movies, speakers and service.

While public schools and most government offices will close for the Monday holiday, three schools, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University, have their first day of spring semester classes Monday.

At St. Lawrence University, a song service will mark the holiday, university spokeswoman Macreena A. Doyle said.

“It is something we have been doing for the last six or seven years,” she said.

At 5 p.m. in the Gunnison Memorial Chapel, the service, open to the public, will begin with singing. University President William L. Fox will offer remarks. Vocal groups the Ad Hoc Singers, the Community Gospel Choir, the Laurentian Singers, the Singing Saints, the Singing Sinners and The UpBeats will perform.

SUNY Potsdam, on the other hand, will not formally observe the holiday Monday. Instead, campus and community members are encouraged to participate in a ‘Day of Service’ on Jan. 26, said Sheila M. Marshall, director of SUNY Potsdam’s center for diversity.

“It is such an important part of the legacy of Dr. King,” she said. “He promoted service throughout his life. I think it is such a participatory action for the students.

So far, the school has confirmed service sites at the Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club, the Massena Salvation Army, the Potsdam Animal Shelter and Helping Hands.

“They are going to interact with people at the service site,” Ms. Marshall said. “They will come to know the purpose of the site, who they serve, so they contribute to the local community.”

At 6 p.m., participants and community members will convene in the Knowles Hall multi-purpose room for a program in celebration of Mr. King’s legacy.

“It kind of brings it full circle,” Ms. Marshall said. “Dr. King was so much about strengthening your community, empowering people, breaching barriers — a day of service does all of those things.”

The program will include a performance by the Voices of Victory Gospel Choir and remarks by John D. Youngblood, professor of english and communications.

On Monday, Clarkson University will host discussions by Arthur Romano, a George Mason University conflict resolution expert.

At 3 p.m. in the Cheel Campus Center Cheel Commons, he will present “Civility and Difference: Sustaining Conversations that Matter on Campus,” which will focus on creating candid but respectful dialogue that addresses issues of difference. At 6 p.m. in the Student Center Multi-purpose Rooms, Romano will present “Call to Conscience,” which will discuss the lasting impact of Mr. King’s teachings.

Clarkson will also present the annual Diversity Initiatives Office Martin Luther King Jr. Award to former Dean of Students Kurt W. Stimeling at 5:30 p.m.

At SUNY Canton, the Student Activities Office will screen the 2001 film ‘Boycott’, a retelling of the 1955-56 Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott led by Mr. King. A copy of his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech will be prominently displayed in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center.

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