M. L. King Day celebration draws more than 700 to KSU

Hill Harper and Daijane Clark

Keynote speaker Hill Harper invokes King, the dreamer and activist In a tribute to the civil…

Georgia (Jan 19, 2010)Keynote speaker Hill Harper invokes King, the dreamer and activist

In a tribute to the civil rights leader whose dream helped transform the nation, Hill Harper, keynote speaker for KSU’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday observance on Jan. 18, encouraged the dreams of those in the audience and facilitated at least one.


Eleven year-old Daijané Clark followed Harper’s advice to “speak publicly to your dreams,” as Dr. King did. 


During the Q&A that followed an hour-long presentation by Harper, star of TV’s CSI:New York series, Harvard Law honor graduate, New York Times best-selling author, activist and entrepreneur, the fifth grader from Baker Elementary School in Acworth stood boldly in front of the more than 700 attending the celebration at the Bobbie Bailey Performing Arts Center to ask how she might advance her dream of owning a studio. 


After grilling Daijané for specifics and clarity on what she was doing to make her dream a reality —holding fundraisers, she said — Harper pledged to contribute and offered a lesson in the finer points of fundraising. 


“I’ll contribute, and then you go to other potential donors and ask if they will match Hill Harper’s donation,” he said. “Then you come back to me and ask if I’ll double what they contributed. And don’t forget to exchange information with me because what we’re doing is networking.” 


“I’m happy,” the budding singer and dancer said after the exchange. “I’m working on my own CD and I thought I needed to have my own studio.” 


Harper urged the audience to become “architects of their own lives,” elaborating guidelines for building a foundation and a framework for dreams that create extraordinary life experiences, themes introduced in his best-selling book “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny,” a motivational guide of practical advice for teens and young men. Although he targets his messages to youth, Harper challenged adults and parents in the audience as well.


”Parents are sometimes the biggest dream killers because they respond out of fear to false evidence appearing real,” Harper said, posing a question for the adults in the audience: “What risks have you decided not to take, what choices have you decided not to make or put off until later? To the extent that parents and adults stop taking risks and manifesting their dreams, so too will the young people around them.”


Harper’s appearance at KSU and an ambitious calendar of black history and cultural events planned through April are designed to expand programming, create linkages to other campus and community organizations and extend the university’s recognition of black history beyond the traditional month-long celebration in February.


“Hill Harper was recommended to kick off the black history celebrations because his life and work tied so well with Dr. King’s legacy of activism and to our theme this year, “Each One, Reach One,” said Taylor Reeves, president of KSU’s African American Student Association, which worked in conjunction with the 2010 KSU Black History Committee and office of Multicultural Student Retention Services to plan and publish a listing of more than 20 events and activities. 


Nicole Phillips, associate director of Student Development for Multicultural Student Retention Services ,said the success of the King holiday observance — a record turnout that was double last year’s attendance — demonstrates the importance of such events to the university and the surrounding communities. 


“Programs such as the celebration honoring Dr. King’s birthday, black history and other cultural events help facilitate the university’s trajectory towards its aspirations, including supporting and enhancing the diversity of the KSU community, " she said.


To view the 2010 Black History Calendar, visit http://www.kennesaw.edu/stu_dev/msrs/pdf/black_history_calendar_2010.pdf.





A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu