MLK Legacy Concert to feature Bishop Rance Allen: 1st-time concert headlining week of Sumter's Morris College homecoming festivities


With a new decade comes a new celebration to honor a historical great.

Morris College is set to host the city's first MLK Legacy Concert at 6 p.m. on Monday at the college's Neal-Jones Auditorium, marking the Sumter community's celebration of the life and legacy of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. through art, music and fellowship.

Under the theme "When Love Drives Out Hate," the liberal arts HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) established in 1908 will offer a "new vision to improve race relations" in Sumter.

Leroy Staggers, president of Morris College, said King's legacy is one of "unity and equality."

"In a society overwhelmed by hate and division, we understand that the antidote is love for all mankind. It is our hope that this event brings our community together and serves as a catalyst for meaningful change," he said.

The concert, according to Herbert Johnson, assistant professor of music at the college and its choir director, seeks to "educate, commemorate and celebrate while promoting unity in our community."

Event coordinators English instructor Priscilla Patten and history instructor Darnell Holland said the concert will showcase the "immense talents" of the college's students, members of the community and special guests.

Gospel recording artists Rance Allen and local performers, including the Morris College Gospel Choirs, the Allen University Concert Choir, the Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church Choir and the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church Choir will perform on Monday.

The concert is free and open to the public and kicks off homecoming week for Morris, which will commence with "The Blueprint" as a theme and culminate with a homecoming game against Fisk University on Saturday, Jan. 25.

"The Blueprint" is an experience that embodies the "legacy of Morris College and all of Hornet Nation," modeled after the college's core principles of God, man and knowledge.

Starting with a chapel service on Sunday and followed by the concert on Monday, the theme will also inform the Sumter community of the college's history.

Student Government Association President Dinasia Nathan said The Blueprint will allow for current students and alumni alike to connect and build on the history and legacy that was established in 1908.