Gospelfest a celebration of King legacy

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Gospelfest a celebration of King legacy
Event features choir from Ohio State
By KURT MOORE • The Marion Star • January 6, 2010

MARION - Organizers are hoping an upcoming remembrance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. serves as an uplift for people during tough economic times.

The Ohio State University - Marion will hold the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gospelfest Extravaganza on Saturday. The event features a soul food dinner at 4 p.m., a style show at 5 p.m. and a gospel concert with OSU's African-American Voices Gospel Choir and local choirs at 6 p.m.

"He was a remarkable person who truly loved and believed in his fellow man," Ohio State Marion diversity coordinator Shawn Jackson said of King. "He was known as a man who stood up for the poor and anyone he felt was disenfranchised. As we are learning as a country to celebrate our growing diversity, it's important that we continue to be willing to learn more about the culture of one another."

The soul food dinner, which costs $10, will feature foods such as sweet potato pie and greens that intermingle with the experience of blacks in the early South.

The style show, Smart Style in Tough Times, will feature clothing and accessories from Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Dottie Ann's and Red Door Boutique. Jackson's wife Lona Jackson, who is helping to organize the show, said they are hoping to promote the values of thrifty shopping.

"Since our economy is in such shambles, we wanted people to know there is nothing wrong with shopping at thrift stores," said Lona. "That's why we gave it the title. Just because we are going through tough economic times doesn't mean you can't still be styling."

The celebration will showcase gospel music, an instrumental part of the American-American experience. Along with the Ohio State University's African American Voices Gospel Choir the concert will feature the Marion Community Choir, Mayes Community Temple Choir and Jermaine and Company.

"We grew up on that type of music," said Kristie Mayes. "That's how we overcame slavery. Music was a soother for us. It was a way out for us, made us believe God didn't forget about us."

Shawn Jackson said it was the spiritual hymns and the wisdom of leaders like King that encouraged people during the early part of the civil rights movement.

"It's an art form, spiritual in nature and a form of outward expression for many people," he said. "The sounds are inspiring and sometimes make you want to tap your feet and raise your hands. It's part of the historical changes that occurred in African-American culture throughout American history."

Mayes said she hopes the concert serves as a spiritual gathering, an uplift of sorts as people emerge from a trying 2009. She said the event is not only meant for African-Americans but open to a diverse range of people.

"We can worship him as one voice, as people," she said. "We are all God's people and he loves us all."

To order tickets for the soul food dinner, which will be held at 4 p.m. in the Guthery Community Room in Maynard Hall, call 740-725-6219. A limited number of tickets are available.

The 5 p.m. style show and 6 p.m. gospel concert will be held in Morrill Hall Auditorium. Admission is a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Mayes Community Temple Food Pantry.

The event is co-sponsored by Ohio State Marion Office of Diversity, Ohio State Marion Office of Student Affairs and the Multicultural Club.

Reporter Kurt Moore: 740-375-5151 or kdmoore@marionstar.com