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 Second Annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service Set at SRU: Morris Dees to Speak 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:


          SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – More than 150 Slippery Rock University student volunteers are expected to turn out for the university’s second annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service set for Jan. 17 and including participation in the Unity Project breakfast in Butler, a series of community service projects and a keynote address delivered by the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center Morris Dees.

          The university will remain open, but there are no day or evening classes in observance of the national holiday.

          The day will also include an 11 a.m. kickoff program in the University Union, which will offer the traditional Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Speech Competition followed by a volunteers’ luncheon. Prior to Dees’ 7 p.m. address in Miller Auditorium, a 6 p.m. candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate previous marches that have taken place for the civil liberties now enjoyed across the nation. The vigil will include stops at both Boozel and Weisenfluh dining halls to gather participants before ending at Miller where the annual Civil Leadership Awards will be presented.

          “This event is a growing tradition at Slippery Rock University,” says Robert Clay, assistant director of the Office of Intercultural Programs, a primary organizer for the program. “We started last year, and we were overwhelmed by the student participation. Our service project was creating and delivering personal care packages to those in nearby personal care centers. This year, our community service projects involve spending time with residents at Orchard Manor and Fellowship Manor in Grove City as well as helping teachers complete assignments and engage in recreational activities with children and youth at the Grove City YMCA and the SRU Child Care Center. Volunteers will also help Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Grove City, and the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Rescue team complete beautification projects.”

          “We have taken the idea that the holiday is not a day off, but a day on,” Clay explains, saying that by uniting all segments of the campus, the project focuses efforts on the kind of work Dr. King supported. “This program is cosponsored by various campus departments because it brings diversity groups together for the common good, including respect for Rev. King.”

          Dees was among those founding the SPLC in 1971 at a small civil rights law firm in Montgomery, Ala. Today, the internationally known center focuses on its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups as well as promotion of cultural diversity, social justice and civil liberties of historically bypassed groups. 

         The son of farmers, Dees attended the University of Alabama where he founded a nationwide direct mail sales company that specialized in book publishing. After graduation from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1960, he returned to and opened a law office and continued his publishing to make his firm one of the largest in the South. In 1969, he sold the company to Times Mirror, the parent company of the Los Angeles Times. In a controversial case, Dees sued to stop construction of a white university in an Alabama city that already had a predominantly black state college. In 1969, he filed suit to integrate the all-white Montgomery YMCA.


        Dees has received numerous awards in conjunction with his work at the Center. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice named him Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1987, and he received the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Award from the National Education Association in 1990. The American Bar Association gave him its Young Lawyers Distinguished Service Award, and the American Civil Liberties Union honored Dees with its Roger Baldwin Award. Colleges and universities have recognized his accomplishments with honorary degrees, and the University of Alabama gave him its Humanitarian Award in 1993. His autobiography, “A Season for Justice" was published in 1991.


        Security will be tightened at Miller for the lecture with bags, purses or backpacks search on entry to the auditorium and no flash photography will be permitted during the address. Parking will be limited near the facility.

           Elizabeth Asche Douglas, noted artist, author and professor of fine arts at Geneva College, will open the day with “King and Culture” at an 8:30 a.m. breakfast at the Butler YWCA, 120 W. Cunningham St. Tickets are $5 at the door and are available from Sandra Stevenson, assistant director of diversity and staff training at SRU. The breakfast is sponsored by theAmerican Association of University Women and Butler YWCA

          Douglas, who has taught at LeMoyne-Owens, Philander Smith and Texas colleges, as well as Southern University and University of the Nations, is active on numerous director and advisory boards, including Christian Scholars Review, the Rochester Chamber of Commerce and the Sweetwater Center for the arts. She has exhibited her art extensively, including shows at Carnegie Mellon University, Butler County Community College, the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts in New Castle and Campbell Gallery at Sewickly Academy among others.

          Additional information and event details are available at or by calling 724-738-2700.

          The King Day of Service Planning Committee organized event is sponsored by SRU’s Office of Academic Affairs, the Divisions of Student Life, Finance and Administrative Affairs, the SRU Frederick Douglass Institute, the Office of Human Resources and Diversity, the Office of Intercultural Programs, the President’s Office, the Office of Residence Life, the SGA Bookstore, University Printing Services and University Public Relations and AVI Foodsystems, the campus contract food vendor.



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