Jan. 4, 2023

Woman singing at IWU Gospel Fest
A performer sings at a previous IWU Gospel Fest honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Music, dance and spoken word performances will celebrate the 34th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Gospel Festival at Illinois Wesleyan University on Jan. 15.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Westbrook Auditorium in Presser Hall. Doors open at 5 p.m. The Gospel Festival will feature performances by United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington Normal, BCAI (Breaking Chains and Advancing Increase) Cultural Arts & Humanities, IWU Choral Ensembles and The Fantastic Jones Family.

The Festival honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke at Illinois Wesleyan in 1966 .

Normal Community High School student Bradley Ross Jackson will recite King’s speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” IWU President Georgia Nugent and City of Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe will also give remarks.

While there are no classes on Jan. 15, the campus will remain open as faculty and staff also have the opportunity to attend workshops dedicated to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment. With the theme of “And Justice for All,” the professional development sessions will provide time for learning, growth and commitment to King’s mission.

Presentations focused on "Bending the Arc Toward Justice" will also take place Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 1-4 p.m. at Hansen Student Center. This event is free and open to the public. Dr. Cedric Taylor from Central Michigan University will speak at 1 p.m. with a presentation titled "Telling the Untold: Documentary Story and Environmental Justice in MLK Jr.'s Legacy"; Dr. Chris Cooper of the University of Tennessee Extension will speak at 2 p.m. with a presentation titled "Sustainable Landscaping Principles for Future Generations"; and Chloe Bell '19 of Greater Chicago Legal Clinic will speak at 3 p.m. with a presentation titled "Redlining Then and Now: The Lasting Impact of Housing Discrimination on Industrial Development, Environmental Injustice and Land Use."