Arts and Entertainment

Libraries MLK Week events include student poster exhibit, films, choir concert

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an estimated 9,000 people on Jan. 21, 1965, inside Penn State's newly expanded Recreation Hall on the University Park campus. Credit: Penn State University Archives / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries’ annual celebration of Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Commemoration Week at Penn State highlights students’ creative expression through the fine arts as well as ongoing screenings of films from the Libraries’ collection depicting Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work.

In 2019, the Libraries continues its annual tradition of exhibiting undergraduate student poster designs based on the current year’s MLK Week theme. Twenty posters accompanied by each student’s artist statement are on display now until Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Sidewater Commons, first floor Pattee Library, adjacent to the library’s Pattee Mall revolving door entrance. Students created designs based on the 2019 MLK Week theme, “Where Do We Go From Here: A Tradition of Resistance,” during a fall 2018 graphic design course.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 21 — exactly 54 years after King spoke at Rec Hall on Penn State’s University Park campus — the Libraries will host two events:

— Film screenings

Screenings of two short films occur all day, rotating every half hour, starting at 9 a.m. with “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: The Making of a Holiday” and concluding with the 4:30 p.m. showing of “Martin Luther King Jr.: Look Here,” in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: The Making of a Holiday,” hosted by LaVar Burton, depicts the determined efforts of Coretta Scott King, politicians including Rep. John Conyers Jr. — who first authored a bill proposing the national holiday four days after King’s 1968 assassination — and others, such as Harry Belafonte and Diana Ross, to memorialize King, according to It includes interviews, rare documentary footage, and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Stevie Wonder’s song “Happy Birthday,” a tribute to King with lyrics advocating for a holiday.

“Martin Luther King Jr.: Look Here” is from the NBC News Time Capsule series. A synopsis notes, “One of the first in-depth televised interviews given by Martin Luther King Jr., this program was first broadcast on October 27, 1957, on the NBC News show ‘Look Here.’ Filmed only a year after he had reached national prominence during the Montgomery bus boycott, the 27-year-old King offers host Martin Agronsky invaluable insights into his goals, his philosophy and his unshakable dedication to equality and civil rights.”

— Essence of Joy concert

The student choir Essence of Joy, led by artistic director and conductor Gregg Mauroni, will perform musical selections at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in Franklin Atrium, first floor Pattee Library. Essence of Joy is a choral ensemble in the Penn State School of Music that performs sacred and secular music from the African and African-American traditions. Founded by Professor Anthony Leach, who retired in spring 2018, the ensemble gave its first performance on Jan. 15, 1992, during Penn State’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet. Hosted by the Forum on Black Affairs, the banquet once again will be held this year on Jan. 15 for its 44th annual celebration.

For a complete list of events held on the University Park campus to celebrate the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration at Penn State, visit For more information on the events being held in the libraries, or for questions about accommodations or the physical access provided, contact Mark Mattson, global partnerships and outreach librarian, at 814-863-2480 or in advance of your visit.

Last Updated February 05, 2019