The celebration of the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King will continue on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the day after the official holiday, with a program sponsored by St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice.
The program, which will be presented virtually from 6-7:30 p.m., on STLCC’s YouTube Channel, will offer speeches and present awards recognizing those who have distinguished themselves by service to the community.
Rudy Nickens, diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability partner at Evolution, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The theme of his speech is “Intelligence Plus Character: The Goal of True Education.” Evolution is a coaching, consulting and investment firm.
Drawing upon almost four decades of experience in a range of areas related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce, Nickens has cultivated a wealth of knowledge.
Many of his views relate with those of King in how he finds commonalities in everyone and builds relationships across all identities. Nickens said being chosen to deliver the keynote address is special and holds a lot of significance in why he works for diversity.
“I can’t think of a time when this wasn’t important to me,” Nickens said. “In the talk that I gave for the community college’s MLK program, I shared a moment about how, when I was 8 years old, I got to go to my first rally with my family to Washington, D.C., to hear Dr. King speak.”
“I saw the effect on Black folks, poor, working-class Black folks coming together, standing up together. It was life-altering. I’ve spent my whole life trying to make that reality continue and to do what I can to have that moment that changed my life as a boy.”
Nickens understands the historical importance of why, since 1986, the nation has recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. King was born on Jan.15, 1929. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, when he was 39 years old.
“It’s as much about the community as it’s about him individually,” Nickens said. “I think one of the things that I thought about in him was he was not about a singular movement.
“Although people talk about his commitment to racial justice, which was important, he also worked to build movements that were inclusive of other struggles.”
Nickens’ resume is extensive. In addition to being a facilitator, educator and entrepreneur, he has also established an impressive career in business management and community development. Prior to his current role, he was the director of equal opportunity and diversity with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Azariah Estes, a first-year general transfer student will be the student emcee; Aquita Lowe, a second-year general transfer student, and Zoe Wallace, a first-year general transfer student will serve as student speakers.
Viewers will also hear speeches from winners of the North County churches group’s Oratorical Contest and will be able to join in singing along with an instrumental rendition of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” played by pianist Paul Higdon, professor of music
Additionally, viewers will learn Christian Hospital is being honored with the 2021 Dr. Rance Thomas Excellence in Community Partnership Award.
“Christian Hospital and President Rick Stevens are incredible partners with St. Louis Community College through diverse avenues,” according to Elizabeth Gassel Perkins, campus president and chief academic officer at STLCC-Florissant Valley.
“... Christian Hospital partners with our nursing and health sciences programs to offer valuable training to future healthcare professionals, she said. “Beyond the incredible partnership they share with STLCC, they strive to improve the health and welfare of everyone in the region by providing stellar patient care, educational opportunities and participating in outreach activities to all north St. Louis County residents.”
More information about this event is available at stlcc.edu.