Valencia Instructor to Lecture on MLK’s Life and the Music of His Age

ORLANDO — In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Valencia instructor and musical folklore expert Don Harrell will present a musical celebration and reflection on King’s life at the Orlando Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 11 a.m.

Harrell, who teaches African-American humanities classes at Valencia College and in the University of Central Florida’s Africana Studies department, will look back at the music and culture that surrounded King’s life — from boyhood to his assassination and beyond.

“I’ll start with the year of his birth and we’ll look at the musical backdrop of the era and how it informed the society he was born into,” said Harrell. “We’ll chase the different phases, jumping forward to his Morehouse College years, looking at what was going on in the music business.” Harrell will also examine the civil rights movement and the use of music in the movement.

Ethnomusicologist Don Harrell
Ethnomusicologist Don Harrell

The narration includes a festive sampling of negro spirituals, blues, gospel, jazz, R&B and freedom songs that were representative of the times and key to King’s development.

“Being a musicologist, I feel that music is symptomatic of what’s going on in our culture,” said Harrell, who teaches African-American humanities at Valencia, as well as a humanities course titled “Hip Hop Journey.”

The lecture will be held at the downtown branch of the Orlando Public Library, located at 101 E. Central Boulevard, Orlando. The event will be held in the Albertson Room from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. For more information, please call  407-835-7498.