Longwood To Observe MLK Day

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

Barbara Noble Howard, a native of apartheid-era South Africa who is now the first lady of Hampden-Sydney College, will be the speaker for Longwood University's observance of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, to be held Thursday, Jan. 20, at 3:30 p.m. in Jarman Auditorium, Howard will discuss growing up under apartheid and how everyone can rise from a challenge to make a difference. Activities in the annual symposium, whose theme this year is “Superheroes for Social Justice,” not only focus on Dr. King's life but also support Longwood's mission of citizen leadership.

Also as part of Longwood's observance of Dr. King's birthday, volunteers will take turns reading excerpts from a speech by Christopher Reeve on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at noon on the steps in front of Lankford Hall. The speech by the late actor at the 1996 Democratic National Convention focused on disability as part of civil rights and the continuing struggle for acceptance and equality. Additionally, Longwood students on Monday, Jan. 17, will participate in the MLK Service Challenge, in which they perform community service projects around Farmville.

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Howard was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, and grew up during apartheid, that nation's former system of rigid racial segregation. Despite strong resistance, she became the first black to be admitted to all-white nursing school in South Africa. After practicing nursing in Johannesburg for several years, Howard married and relocated to the United States.

She earned a B.S. in organizational studies from Temple University and then worked as executive director of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, an organization that identifies exceptional young leaders among disadvantaged South African high school students and seeks to transform them into global-minded citizens. Before coming to Hampden-Sydney College, she was director of development for the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma. She and her husband, Dr. Christopher B. Howard, who became H-SC's 24th president in July 2009, have two sons, Cohen and Joshua.

The MLK Service Challenge, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature five sites, as was also the case last year when about 60 students participated. The Challenge is co-sponsored by the Black Student Association and the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement.

An information and curriculum support site about the 2011 MLK Day program, created by the Greenwood Library staff, is available at http://libguides.longwood.edu/mlk.