Topics: Speakers, Student Affairs

January 4, 2007

The Rev. Floyd Flake, a dynamic church pastor and president of the oldest private black university in the nation, will deliver the keynote address for Ball State's Unity Week observances Jan 15-20.

Flake will discuss "Community, Cooperation, Change" in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in Emens Auditorium. The presentation is free and open to the public and is sponsored by Ball State's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

He is president of Wilberforce University, founded in 1856 as America's first black college by leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In addition, the former U.S. congressman has been preaching since he was 15 and now is pastor of the 23,000-member Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens, N.Y.

Flake is similar to Martin Luther King Jr. because he is extremely active in the social and academic communities, said Derick Virgil, director of Ball State's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

"He is amazing in terms of understanding not only the human condition but also the ways the community can advance," Virgil said. "He is going to be one of the more exciting speakers we've had in a few years."

Unity Week kicks off Jan. 15 with the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Pittenger Student Center. The breakfast is free and open to the public. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m.

Other Unity Week events include "Who Lives in Your Neighborhood" at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 in the student center. This is an interactive event intended to help participants uncover biases and stereotypes associated with gender, race and class.

"A Bowl of Diversity" begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Multicultural Center and will feature foods from different cultures.

The Unity Pageant will wrap up the week at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 in Pruis Hall.

Tiffany Washington, assistant director of student life, encourages students and community members to come out and support the week's activities.

"Ball State and Muncie communities can come together and support the educational and social programming that is both culturally sensitive and intentional," Washington said.

Unity Week activities are planned and sponsored by students and faculty from the Asian American Student Association, the Black Student Association, the Latino Student Union, Spectrum and the Multicultural Center.

All events will be free and open to the public with the exception of the pageant. Tickets are available in advance for $3 and $5 at the door.

By Jody Kress