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UC Berkeley Music to Honor MLK Jr. on 50th Anniversary of Death

MLK at Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley 1967

The UC Berkeley Department of Music will honor the 50-year mark of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 2018 with performances by student carillonist Leslie Chan and the University Gospel Chorus directed by D. Mark Wilson.

Just after 12PM Pacific time the event will start with the tolling of 5.25-ton Great Bear Bell 39 times, once for each year off Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The carillon and Gospel Chorus will then perform “Lift Ev’ry Voice & Sing” written by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson and “We Shall Overcome,” which was  derived from the hymn “I’ll Overcome Some Day” by Charles Albert Tindley. Both songs were standards of the 1960’s Civil Right Movement that King Jr. helped to lead.

UC Berkeley Gospel Choir directed by D. Mark Wilson

UC Berkeley will be joining with organizations across the world to remember MLK on April 4. The National Civil Rights Museum, The King Center, and City of Memphis are all holding events marking the anniversary of King’s assassination. The National Civil Rights Museum has also encouraged church and campus bells across the world to join them tolling 39 times.

The 50th anniversary of MLK’s death is just one of the events the UC Berkeley Campanile is hosting as the Carillon celebrates its centennial. To mark the 100-year of the carillon, University Carillonist Jeff Davis will be inviting a variety of carillonists and composers to collaborate on performances throughout the year. The festivities will culminate in the summer with the 2018 UC Berkeley Carillon Festival. These activities will also seek to raise awareness and funds for much needed repairs to the instrument.

-Alex Coughlin, UC Berkeley Music