Rev. Jesse Jackson to give keynote address at U.'s MLK celebration

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 4:28 p.m. MST

The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks at Ohio University Monday, Sept. 26, 2011.

Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson will give a keynote address at the University of Utah in January as part of the university's weeklong celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Jackson's address will take place at noon Jan. 24 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus.

"We feel very fortunate to have Rev. Jackson deliver the keynote address for this year's MLK celebration,” University of Utah President David W. Pershing said in a prepared statement. “As a civil rights leader who worked alongside Martin Luther King, his presence will lend a special significance this year as we recognize the contributions and legacy of King."

Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president for equity and diversity, said organizers have tried for the past five years to secure Jackson as a keynote speaker for the annual celebration. He said the event will be a culmination of persistence and a unique opportunity for members of the community. 

"His presence will provide students, faculty and the larger community with an opportunity to hear from a historical figure who can look back on four decades of civil rights progress," Villalpando said.

Karla Motta, director of administration for the U.'s Office of Equity and Diversity, said the event will be Jackson's first visit to the university and his first time in the state since a brief visit in the late 1980s.

"We're very excited," she said. "This is going to be a huge milestone."

In addition to Jackson's address, Motta said the week of Jan. 19-24 will include performances, campus and community panel discussions, film screenings, a community service day, and a march parade or "marade."

The marade will follow a rally at East High School and will travel to President's Circle on the university's campus, she said. Organizers anticipate more than 300 people to participate in the march, Motta said.

"The last couple of years, the number of people who come out and support that has been increasing," she said.

Jackson's address is free to the public but a ticket is required. Tickets can be reserved at utahtickets.com.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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