Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr. Lecture Series begins with Dr. Bernice A. King

The University of Montevallo hosted Dr. Bernice A. King as the keynote speaker in a series of lectures launched on October 7 at the newly constructed Arts Center on campus.

In May, the Board of Directors established the Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr. Lecture Series in honor of the history professor skilled’ dedication to civic rights, social justice and higher education. Fallin is a University of Montevallo alumnus who has served the University and the community for over 28 years. He received his BA from Morehouse College, his M.Div. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, his masters from the University of Montevallo and his doctorate. from the University of Alabama. The evening began with an introduction from Dr Gregory Samuels, the University’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Secondary Education, who challenged participants to be guided by the light and the ‘love.

Dr. Lolita Kincade, Assistant Professor of Human Development, Family Studies and Counseling at the University, moderated a panel discussion featuring King, which touched on several topics including when she first realized that she was called to become a preacher like her father, Dr. Martin. Luther King Jr. King spoke of being barely five when his father was murdered. She later recalled hearing an inner voice at the age of 16 telling her that she would one day become a preacher like her father.

“I was taught a lot of things growing up about love and forgiveness,” King said. “My mother was instrumental in her positive influence in my life. I believe children need to see their parents embody what they teach, and my mom played a big part in my life because she was so good at it.

King is now a speaker, peace advocate, and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, also known as the King Center.

She explained how her father was aligned with truth and righteousness, and how she strives to understand the worth of every human being.

“We want to make decisions that stem from a desire to want the best for everyone,” King said. “People often tap into what’s comfortable, but not always what’s right. “

Addressing social justice, King said justice will prevail as long as people work for and align with it. “We are not the first generation to suffer injustice, and we will not be the last,” King said. “The darkest hour is always before dawn. We might have a dark hour, but we’ll have a dawn.

King said that with the social challenges the country faces, she tries to help people understand that everyone is part of a family.

“I like that people think of themselves as more than just an ally, because an ally means that I am helping you solve your problem,” King said. “It is not a black problem but a problem of humanity, a problem of ailing society; white supremacy and racism run deep around the world. It is a disease that we face from generation to generation, but nevertheless we are part of each other, of the human family. But we must fight together against racism and structural racism, institutional racism. It is first and foremost a change in mentality.

After the moderated session, Fallin said he was honored to have King speak at the inaugural conference. He recalled a time when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had asked to use Fallin’s Church in Bessemer as a gathering place for individuals before King’s march on Washington. “It really means a lot to me that Dr. Bernice King is coming to speak,” Fallin said. “She carries a wonderful heritage.”

The Dr. Wilson Fallin, Jr. lecture series, established by the University’s Black Heritage Committee, highlights educational and socio-cultural topics related to African American heritage, social justice, and racial justice.

Upcoming lectures will feature a nationally recognized expert in these fields and engage students in topics and investigations on societal and educational issues. The lecture series has been recognized by the Alabama Legislature for its significance.

After the moderated session, a book signing and reception was held in the lobby of the Arts Center. The evening ended with a MADE (Minorities Achieving Dreams of Excellence) student reception hosted by Josiah Garrett, Black Heritage Committee student representative, at the Meadows Black Box Theater.

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