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MLK Day activities to 'celebrate 60 years'

January 7th, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. Day poster

Bethel's annual celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday will include a taped excerpt from the speech Dr. King gave 60 years ago, Jan. 20, 1960, in Memorial Hall.

Events start at 2 p.m. (not at 7 p.m. as in previous years and as listed in some printed calendars) and run until 5. The venue is Memorial Hall rather than Krehbiel Auditorium.

With a theme of “Building Bridges,” the afternoon begins with snacks and mingling.

There will be a welcome and introduction to the activities at 2:15 p.m., and then the Bethel College Worship Center band will present some musical numbers.

Following the worship band is a performance by a group of special guests from Leavenworth, the Junior People of Color Step Team.

The group was established in August 2019 at Richard Warren Middle School as “an opportunity for students to understand the People of Color Step Team (POC) at Leavenworth Senior High School.

The Junior POC Team performs at various Warren Middle School events and assemblies, while emphasizing the importance of community service and aiming for high academic standards.

Chancia Fairley, team coach, graduated from both WMS and LHS. She works to promote leadership and team-building skills within JPOC, and encourages team members to see the quality within themselves while highlighting the quality in one another.

Also during this first hour, Bethel will note the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech given in Memorial Hall, by playing a 10-minute excerpt of that speech.

At 3 p.m., Michelle Vann, D.C.C., Wichita, will speak.

Vann has a B.S. in education from Newman University, Wichita, a Master of Liberal Studies degree with an emphasis in history from Friends University, Wichita, and a doctor of Christian counseling from Faith Bible College. She taught in the Wichita public schools for almost 20 years.

She is the founder and CEO of Vanntastic Solutions, which focuses on women’s empowerment. She serves as an empowerment coach to “[help] women weed through their frustrations so they can experience happiness, success and freedom in life.”

She is also president and founder of Sistahs Can We Talk, a nonprofit “concerned with the disparities of health as they relate to under-resourced women in Sedgwick County.”

Vann is an author (of two books, Stop the Merry-go-Round, I Want to Get Off and Help Along the Journey); a popular and sought-after speaker known for her passion and comedic timing; a singer; a radio host on KSUN 95.9; a blogger at “Sistah Talk”; and an active community and church member.

Vann and her husband of almost 30 years, William Vann, own the BaM Group, which specializes in residential property management and business development. They have two grown children.

Vann lists the role she’s “most grateful for” as “serving as the pastor’s wife at Iasis Christian Center” in Wichita.

There will be a reception following Vann’s talk. The public is invited to all the activities, which are free of charge.

Bethel’s advancement office, Diversity Council, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and student life office are the sponsors for the 2020 MLK Day program.

Earlier in the day, Newton Community for Racial Justice is coordinating service projects, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Locations are New Jerusalem Missions, Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Newton Public Library, Offender Victim Ministries and Norm’s Coffee Bar, all in Newton.

Go to the Newton Community for Racial Justice Facebook page for descriptions of the projects and to sign up online to volunteer.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.