January 11, 2024
On Campus

MLK Convocation 2024

The Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation to feature internationally award-winning social entrepreneurs and 2013 alumni Karlos L. Marshall and Moses B. Mbeseha

In collaboration with Wittenberg’s Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) and the Office of the President, the 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series will continue with the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation featuring Wittenberg alumni Karlos L. Marshall, Ed.D., class of 2013, and Moses B. Mbeseha, class of 2013, internationally award-winning social entrepreneurs at the intersections of community development, literacy outreach, and public health as the keynote speakers at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15, in Weaver Chapel. Their address is titled “From Consciousness to Calling.”

As co-founders of The Conscious Connect CDC, Marshall and Mbeseha have established a blueprint to end urban book deserts by working with barbershops, beauty salons, schools, and community organizations. Named to Forbes “30 Under 30,” they have also been honored with a United States Library of Congress Literacy Award, received the Global Early Childhood Innovation Prize Top Idea by OpenIDEO, and were selected as the 2020 Wittenberg Alumni of the Year. Additionally, the nonprofit leaders and innovators have transformed vacant lots into vibrant neighborhood pocket parks and green spaces to promote healthy communities. Efforts of the organization include the My Brothers' Keeper (MBK) Springfield mentoring program, small business support services, and fair housing initiatives.

Born and raised in the Champion City of Springfield, Ohio, Marshall also serves as the inaugural chief diversity officer of the Dayton Metro Library, where he spearheads equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies for the 17-branch system serving more than 250,000 patrons across Montgomery County. Prior to the library, he worked in numerous roles at the University of Dayton, including serving as the inaugural manager of the Greater West Dayton Incubator in the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, where he launched Dayton's first-ever Gem City Black Business Month. Additional honors for Marshall include International Literacy Association “30 Under 30,” Next City Vanguard, and Dayton Business Journal “Forty Under 40,” to name a few.

Marshall obtained a degree in philosophy from Wittenberg with a minor in Africana and Diaspora Studies followed by an M.S. in education and health sciences, followed by a doctorate of education in leadership for organizations from the University of Dayton.

Mbeseha is a well-regarded community organizer who hails from State College, Pennsylvania, by way of Buea, Cameroon. Passionate about social policy, economics, and public health, Mbeseha founded and directs Health Equity Programs for the University of Dayton's Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. In addition, Mbeseha works tirelessly with elected officials across the region and daily leverages his demonstrated skills in project and business management, marketing, fundraising, strategic planning, and community organizing. 

Mbeseha received a Wittenberg degree in political science, also with a minor in Africana and Diaspora Studies. Mbeseha then went on to obtain an MBA from the University of Dayton and a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While on campus, Marshall and Mbeseha will be part of a special meet and greet beginning at 10 a.m. at Weaver Chapel with refreshments and donuts, followed by the convocation at 11 a.m. They will also participate in a Q & A session from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in room 105 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.

Established prior to the 1989-90 school year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation features an academic procession. The event is free and open to the public as are all Wittenberg Series events.

The Wittenberg Series was created in 1982 during President William A. Kinnison’s tenure. Since its inception, Nobel Laureates, scientists, significant literary figures, most of America’s foremost modern dance companies, as well as hundreds of prominent psychologists, educators, economists, writers, theologians, urban planners, and historians have visited campus to participate.

Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to remaining Series’ events.

Remaining 2024 Wittenberg Series Events:

  • Monday, Feb. 19, 2024: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio.
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024: Kenneth H. Sauer Luther Symposium featuring Pastor Drew Tucker, executive director of Hopewood Outdoors Lutheran Camps and author of “4D Formation,” which focuses on vocation for young adults, at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, March 18, 2024: Special Concert featuring Tribe for Jazz with saxophonist Jon Irabagon at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2024: Leventhal Family Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eli Saslow, currently a writer at-large for The New York Times, who was formerly with the Washington Post. 

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To make special arrangements or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Katie Warber at kwarber@wittenberg.edu.

Also taking place on Jan. 15, the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement will partner with local nonprofit Springfield Promise Neighborhood for this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Youth from Springfield Promise programs will be visiting campus and volunteering alongside college students in projects that highlight the legacy of Black leaders in ways that are relevant to the community today. This year’s project will focus on painting panels and pavers to be used in revitalization projects on the south side of Springfield. Designs will focus on freedom quilt patterns used in the underground railroad and quotes from Black leaders. Volunteers will also pack dental hygiene kits for the Springfield community and help with prep projects for the community garden. The event will take place in Geil Lounge on the basement level of the Benham-Pence Student Center from 2-3:30 p.m.

The DAC also invites everyone to take part in a panel discussion on Thursday, Jan. 18 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Bayley Auditorium, part of the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center. Titled “Reflecting on Dr. King’s Legacy Beyond U.S. Borders,” panelists include Vanessa Plumly, assistant professor of languages; Marlo Starr, assistant professor of English; Scott Rosenberg, H.O. Hirt Professor of History; and guest speaker Chad White. Manuel Soque, professor of political science, is the organizer of the event on behalf of DAC.

The discussion seeks to broaden the discourse on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy by examining his influence beyond the United States. In line with the liberal arts tradition, the discussion will be multidisciplinary, exploring how King's activism and theology impacted civil rights and liberation movements globally. Empirical case studies will include the Black German civil rights movement, women's poetry protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific Islands, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and anti-colonial movements in Angola. By delving into these diverse examples, the roundtable aims to highlight the transnational resonance of Dr. King's principles and their enduring impact on struggles for justice.

The event is co-sponsored by Wittenberg departments including political science and world languages along with the African and Diaspora Studies Program, the International Studies Program, and the Programming Board.

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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