Tyehimba to speak during MLK Day events

Tyehimba to speak during MLK Day events

Jan. 7, 2015

Agyei Tyehimba, author, speaker and professional consultant, will speak to the Maryville College community on Mon., Jan. 19 as part of the College’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observances.

Tyehimba will speak at 10:30 a.m. in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall of the Clayton Center for the Arts. The title of his presentation is “Dr. King’s Relevance for Blacks in the 21st Century.”

The MLK Day event, which is sponsored by Maryville College’s Multicultural Center, Black Student Alliance and Bonner Scholars, is free and open to the public. Voices of Praise, Maryville College’s gospel choir, will also perform.

A former New York City public school teacher, Tyehimba is a professional consultant and public speaker who provides political advice and direction for black college student organizations, community activist groups and nonprofit organizations. He co-founded the Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy (KAPPA) Middle School in the Bronx, N.Y., in 2000.

He is the co-author of the Essence bestselling book Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler and the author of Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens and The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook. Tyehimba has been featured on C-SPAN, NY1 News, HuffPost Live, the Biography Channel and the A&E documentary “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” He writes a blog called “My True Sense,” which is read by people in more than 100 countries. 

His current speaking tour on college campuses is titled “Calling all Black Student Unions: Wake Up, Clean Up, and Stand Up!”

“In this long fight of trying to help represent all of the diversity on campus, I’ve often gotten comments like ‘That was back in your day,’” said Larry Ervin, director of multicultural affairs at Maryville College. “The atrocities that have recently made the news prove differently. I think Agyei will remind our campus that the fight is still fresh.”

Dr. Frances Henderson, associate professor of political science at Maryville College, said that in the 21st century, much of the narrative that surrounds Martin Luther King, Jr., his life and work focuses on the idea that his philosophy and activism can be reduced to his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“The decontextualized use of the Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ has the effect of reducing the essence of Dr. King’s work to the struggle for acceptance and social justice within American society in general; however, the fact of the matter is that MLK Jr. was very clear that, with regard to what we now call the ‘Civil Rights Movement,’ the focus was rightfully and justifiably on gaining political, social and economic rights for blacks and challenging white supremacy as it manifests at that particular moment in history,” Henderson said.

“I think that scholar/activist Agyei Tyehimba will bring a different perspective to our discussion of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy; one that moves away from the watered down, mainstream narrative, by reminding us that justice explicitly (although not perhaps not always exclusively) for African-Americans and dismantling white supremacy, were integral parts of Martin Luther King's work. Tyehimba will challenge us to rethink the current narrative that surrounds MLK Jr.'s toil and legacy and unpack the implications of Dr. King’s work and philosophy for the struggle for social justice in the United States in the 21st century.”

Jan. 19, 2015, will mark the 29th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday and the 24th official observance sponsored by Maryville College’s Multicultural Center.

For more information about the College’s MLK Day observances, please contact Ervin at 865.981.8222 or larry.ervin@maryvillecollege.edu

By Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications 


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”