Lenoir-Rhyne University, in collaboration with other community organizations, will
celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with several events in January.
Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, will speak at 10:00 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17, in the P.E. Monroe Auditorium, located on the LRU campus. The Lenoir-Rhyne Gospel Choir will also perform during the program.
Dr. Tyson grew up in North Carolina, graduated from Emory University in 1987 and earned his Ph.D. from Duke in 1994. Tyson, a professor of African-American studies who’s white, unflinchingly examines the civil rights struggle in the South. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP and works on issues of race and public education, in addition to his labors as a writer, historian, and teacher.
Tyson has written several books including Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, the story of an influential radical NAACP branch president from Monroe, NC as well as Blood Done Sign My Name, which went on to win the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion.
As Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, he can be found on Wednesday mornings out in the yard cooking eastern North Carolina pork barbecue over a hickory fire for his seminar. His handiwork has no tomato-tinted hint of what Tyson refers to as “the Lexington heresy.”
On the equally crucial basketball question, Tyson’s position is more balanced. Though born a Blue Devil, he holds appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as Duke. On game day, he dons the darker blue, but otherwise roots for both the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels, making him perhaps a singularly ecumenical figure in our state, crossing color lines of all kinds.
The spring course Tyson teaches with gospel singer Mary D. Williams, “The South in Black and White,” continues to draw hundreds of students from North Carolina Central University, Duke, the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and the surrounding community.
Tyson lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Perri Morgan, who teaches in the Duke Physician’s Associate program, and his son, Sam Tyson, lead guitarist for “Rev. B. and the WannaBees,” who will graduate from East Chapel Hill High School this year. Their daughter, Hope Tyson, will graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison next year. His father, Rev. Vernon C. Tyson, a retired United Methodist minister, and his mother, Mrs. Martha Tyson, a long-time public schoolteacher, live in Raleigh.
Dr. Tyson will also be the featured speaker at the Annual MLK Community Worship Service on Sunday, January 16 at 5:00pm at Corinth Reformed Church, 150 16th Avenue NW in Hickory.
Immediately after the January 17th presentation, the Hickory NAACP annual march will take place, from the university to the Brown-Penn Recreation Center, located at 735 Third St. SW, Hickory.
All of these events are free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Emma Sellers, LRU Director of Residence Life, 828-328-7288.