With the passage of time, important historical moments such as the Civil Rights Movement can dim in our collective memory.
This year, West Virginia University is encouraging the community to remember that struggle and honoring the legacy of the movement’s foremost leader, Martin Luther King Jr., by hosting a speaker who helped lead the fight for equality while still a child.
Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will be addressing attendees on Friday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms at the annual King Commemoration. The event is free and open to the public.
“I can think of no one who has a more relevant message for us today than Dr. Freeman Hrabowski,” said Marjorie Fuller, director of WVU’s Center for Black Culture and Research. “His visionary leadership exemplifies the life and legacy of Dr. King, and we are honored to welcome him to West Virginia University.”
Hrabowski was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by “U.S. News & World Report” in 2008 and one of the country’s “10 Best College Presidents” by “Time” in 2009.
“Dr. Freeman Hrabowski is one of the most amazing and inspirational leaders in the country,” said WVU President James P. Clements. “He’s innovative, caring, entrepreneurial and a true champion for higher education. I consider him a dear friend – a mentor and a personal coach to me – and I am thrilled that he is coming to our campus.”
Hrabowski, born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1950, graduated from Hampton Institute at 19 and went on to receive his master’s and doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the age of 24. He was featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary “Four Little Girls” depicting the racially motivated bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.
Hrabowski participated in the “Children’s Crusade” march for civil rights in 1963 and got swept up in a mass arrest. King led a march of parents to the jail, and the children were freed after five terrifying days.
He co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff. It is a program that supports all high-achieving students committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering, and the program works to advance minorities in these fields.
Hrabowski has co-authored two books based on the scholars program, “Beating the Odds” and Overcoming the Odds.” He is a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and universities and school systems around the country. He has won numerous awards, including the McGraw Prize in Education and the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
CONTACT: Marjorie Fuller, WVU Center for Black Culture and Research
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