By George Mauzy
The message is a simple one -- take Martin Luther King Jr.'s teachings and make them relevant in your life.
That's the advice Joe Rogers will give his audience during his Dream Alive presentation at the annual MLK Memorial Service Brunch at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19 at the Baker University Center Ballroom. The brunch will be preceded by a silent march that begins at Galbreath Chapel at 10:30 a.m.
Rogers, a former lieutenant governor in Colorado, said King's teachings are still relevant today and that is why he has dedicated his life to sharing them. In addition to serving as a national speaker, he runs his own law firm in Aurora, Colo.
During his presentation, Rogers will emulate portions of King's "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speeches.
"The hope of Dream Alive is that we take the substance of Dr. King off the history books and out of that grainy black and white footage of him and somehow make it relevant to people's lives and their pursuit of their dreams and values," Rogers said. "Dream Alive is the story of America -- past, present and future -- told through the life, memory and legacy of Dr. King."
Rogers said he believes most people have never listened to the entirety of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
"Most people don't know the substance of the 'I Have a Dream' speech at its root is the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson," Rogers said. "My commentary gives you an explanation of how we (as a nation) worked through the issues of slavery and segregation. But it's not just about race, it's also about economics, education and leadership."
Rogers said it is too limiting to describe his presentation as a reenactment.
"I leave it to the critics to define what I do," Rogers said. "I call it a personal dedication in honor of Dr. King's life. I use Dr. King's words and the substance of how he shared them, but I also take that message and focus on how his dreams remain alive in the context of our lives today."
Ohio University senior Deandre Christian, who was instrumental in bringing Rogers to campus, said he became excited after Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith spoke glowingly about the power of Roger's Dream Alive presentation.
"After Dr. Smith described the performance to me, I decided to contact him (Rogers) and we were lucky enough to get him on MLK Day," Christian said.
Rogers' first King presentation came while he was a senior at Colorado State University and was asked to deliver the "I Have a Dream" speech during a memorial service held on the April 4 anniversary of King's assassination. He earned a standing ovation from the audience after his performance.
"It was a transformational experience," Rogers said. "Since then, every year I have been asked to give my Dr. King presentation somewhere."
In 2008, Rogers presented Dream Alive in more than 30 U.S. cities.
The cost of the brunch is $5 for students, $7 for all others. Tables of eight cost $50. Tickets can be reserved by e-mailing Tamika Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated Jan. 12 to add a link to Rogers' WOUB interview.