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ECU to mark MLK Day with film, lecture, volunteerism

GREENVILLE, NC   (Jan. 5, 2007)   —   A documentary filmmaker focusing on the life and death of Emmett Till will visit Greenville in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Keith Beauchamp will speak at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Hendrix Theatre at ECU's Mendenhall Student Center. David Dennard, ECU associate professor of history and MLK day committee chair, said that Beauchamp’s work offers students an interesting perspective on the civil rights movement.

Beauchamp worked for 10 years on his documentary, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” traveling between New York and Mississippi to reinvestigate the murder and subsequent trial and to interview hundreds of people connected to the case. The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 in Hendrix Theatre at the Mendenhall Student Center.

In May 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice re-opened the 49-year-old murder case, citing Beauchamp’s documentary as a major factor in its decision.

“Each year, we try to bring in individuals who were directly involved in the civil rights movement or scholars who have studied the civil rights movement,” Dennard said. “This year with Keith Beauchamp, we have a person who prepared a documentary on an event that some people see as the birth of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s.”

“The murder of this 14-year-old African American from Chicago, Emmett Till, sent shock waves throughout the nation. That event grabbed the national attention of generations of young and old African Americans in the same wave that the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans has affected this generation of African Americans and many others, who are sensitive to class and race in this society,” Dennard said.

A native of Louisiana, Beauchamp was chosen as ABC News’ Person of the Week in May 2005 for his dedication to telling Emmett Till’s story.

In addition to the Jan. 11 lecture, MLK activities will continue on the observed holiday, Jan. 15. Students will participate in a daylong volunteerism effort, organized by ECU’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center. Volunteer venues include: The ACS McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge, Give to the Troops, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at Greenville, Food Education and Distribution Center, The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina, Ronald McDonald House, Little Willie Center and Rocking Horse Ranch. Pre-registration is required at: Students will check-in at Mendenhall Student Center at 8:30 a.m., have breakfast, attend a program at 8:45 a.m. and begin their volunteer projects at 9:30 a.m.

At 6 p.m., Jan. 15, ECU will hold a candlelight vigil and march at College Hill in honor of King, followed by a 7 p.m. musical performance at ECU’s Hendrix Theatre. “A Celebration of the Civil Rights Years through Song” will be presented by the ECU Gospel Choir, directed by Dorothea Taylor with special guest Richard Banks of North Carolina Central University.

All events are free and open to the public.


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481