top of page

Belmont honors MLK with “Jazz, Freedom, and Democracy”

Jazz can be like a battle – different instruments almost compete for the spotlight in elaborate solos. But in the end, all the instruments work together in harmony to create that beautiful sound– also like the journey to freedom and democracy.

“Although soloing is very important, you have to give away to other folks,” said attorney, singer-songwriter and Belmont professor Cheryl Slay.

This idea of collaborating was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message.

Belmont University will celebrate King and his struggle for harmony Jan. 11 through Jan. 20. This year’s theme is “Jazz, Freedom and Democracy: Living Dr. King’s Symphony of Brotherhood.”

“To be successful in jazz, you have to be collaborative,” Slay said.

And King himself said, “Jazz speaks for life.”

Whether it’s a worship service, community service, or a jam session, Belmont will offer lots of ways for students to remember, honor and thank the civil rights leader.

The variety of topics and events provide a new way of reflecting about King and his actions, “instead of a list of only his excerpts of speeches,” Slay said.

“I hope people will think about how they can incorporate those messages into their own lives,” Slay said.

The success of his movement proved monumental, but it is King’s powerful words and relatable message that can still be applied.

“Dr. King devoted his life to advancing a collective thought to make a better country, and for Belmont, a better university,” Slay said.

 MLK Commemorative Celebration events:

WED. JAN. 11

10 a.m. – MLK Chapel Service in Neely Dining Hall – The service features guest speaker Carolyn Maul McKinstry, who witnessed the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four of her friends. She also marched with King and faced fire hoses in her hometown, Birmingham, Ala.. She has appeared on TV and radio shows and written a book detailing her experience. Christian Faith Development convo.

7 p.m. – MLK Worship Service in Neely Dining Hall – Worship with the Black Student Association in honor of King. Christian Faith Development convo.

FRI. JAN. 13

10 a.m. – Sounds of Freedom in American Music in the library’s Multimedia Hall – Professors Don Cusic and Bruce Dudley will explain connections between music and protest movements using images and clips of music. Academic Lecture convo.

SAT. JAN. 14

11:30 a.m. – MLK Day of Service – Students from Belmont, Lipscomb and TSU will go to the local Red Cross, where there will be a lunch and a brief service honoring King. After that, half of the students will assemble comfort packages and the other half will pack food boxes and cleaning supplies for Feed the Children. Sign up at Community Service convo.

MON. JAN. 16

7 p.m. – There will be a celebration during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast University.


7 p.m. – Equality Jam Session at the Curb Café – Students and faculty can sign up, bring an instrument and jam.

WED. JAN. 18

10 a.m. – Good News for the Poor in Neely Dining Hall – Evangelist R.V. Brown will speak about his experiences in years of mentoring and coaching students in inner city prisons and how Jesus Christ can transform people. Christian Faith Development convo.

7 p.m. – Candlelight Concert & Vigil in the Neely Dining Hall – This jazz concert will engage and inform about the connections between the music and the struggles for black freedom. Culture and Arts convo.

FRI. JAN. 20

7 p.m. – Journey in Jazz in the Vince Gill Room – Jazz musician Rahsann Barber and his band Everyday Magic, along with Belmont professors Cheryl Slay and Bruce Dudley, will lead a conversation about the complexities and historical impact of jazz in the U.S. Culture and Arts convo.

JAN. 31, FEB. 1 AND FEB. 2

5 p.m. – Real Talk sessions in the first floor conference room of the Beaman Student Life Center – Meet and talk with students and faculty of diverse backgrounds to help Belmont work in better harmony. Advance sign-up is required. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the cafeteria. Professional Growth convo.

FEB. 25

MLK Sponsored Bus Trip to Birmingham – Visit important areas of the Civil Rights Movement, including Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for faculty and staff. Reservations are required at Turn in the forms Feb. 13 to McWhorter 420.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page