Atlanta, GA (BlackNews.com) — Gwendolyn E. Boyd, the first female president of Alabama State University, will be the keynote speaker at The King Center’s 47th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service. The announcement was recently made by King Center C.E. O., Dr. Bernice A. King. The Service, commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday anniversary and the 29th holiday observance in his honor, will be held at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary on Monday, January 19, 2015, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
In addition to serving as president of Alabama State University since February of this year, Dr. Boyd has served on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans and as the 22nd National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization of 250,000 members. Dr. Boyd, an ordained itinerant elder in the AME Church, was awarded the Doctor of Ministry and Master’s degrees from Howard University, as well as a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. She has also chaired the Johns Hopkins University Diversity leadership Council.
“We are honored to have ASU president, Gwendolyn Boyd, deliver the keynote address at our Annual Commemorative Service,” said King in announcing Dr. Boyd’s participation. Boyd’s willingness to serve as the keynote speaker represents a continuation of the relationship between the King family and the university that was so crucial to the modern Civil Rights Movement. “Many people overlook the inseparable connection between my family and Alabama State University. My father used the University’s library while completing the dissertation requirements for the Ph.D. at Boston University in 1954. Almost two years later, the University’s president, Dr. Harper Councill Trenholm, provided a safe haven for my father in the official residence on the campus after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church parsonage was bombed during the early phase of the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” said the CEO. Beyond the historical linkage, however, Dr. Boyd is also an engaging speaker with oratorical abilities that are surpassed only by her passion for social justice and equality.
Dr. Boyd’s speaking at the Annual Commemorative Service will be steeped in both history and irony as the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act – landmark legislation that expanded the national electorate during a time when blacks were systematically denied access to the ballot. Alabama, particularly, the cities of Selma and Montgomery, the latter being the state’s capital and location of Alabama State University, are forever etched in America’s memory since events in both municipalities exposed to the nation the Constitutional contradictions that characterized Dixie’s dastardly disregard for the Fifteenth Amendment. Alumni from the institution that Boyd attended as an undergraduate, and now leads as its chief executive, including, Reverends Ralph D. Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth and Fred Reese, were with the Southern Christian leadership Conference’s (SCLC) steering committee that worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the planning of the 54-mile march to Montgomery from Selma.
Other program participants include a host of federal, state and elected officials, social change advocates, community leaders and public figures from the arts, education and the faith community. The program is televised locally every year by Fox5 Atlanta.
The King Center’s Founder, Coretta Scott King organized the first religious service commemorating Dr. King’s birthday in 1969 with the intention that it would become an annual tradition and the spiritual centerpiece of future observances of Dr. King’s birthday.