January 14, 2008   

Listen to an audio recording of Rev. Fauntroy's address below.

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AMHERST, Mass.—Veteran civil rights activist the Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and former U.S. Congressman, will lead the annual multifaith service in celebration of the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6, in Johnson Chapel at Amherst College.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include music performed by Amherst students, readings from Dr. King’s writings and an address by Fauntroy, a good friend and confidante of Dr. King himself before his assassination.

Throughout his career, Fauntroy has linked his Christian values with nonviolent civil disobedience to bring about social change and justice. His work in the civil rights movement and Congress helped to reduce racial discrimination and poverty in America and to combat human rights abuses across the African Diaspora. 

Fauntroy was appointed by Dr. King to be director of the Washington Bureau of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1961 and went on to coordinate the 1963 March on Washington and direct the 1965 Selma March. He was elected to Congress in 1971 as a Democrat from Washington, D.C.  He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus and served as a member of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. He is the recipient of the Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian Award from the National Urban Coalition and of honorary doctorates from Georgetown University Law School, Yale University, Howard University and Virginia Union University. In addition to his work at New Bethel Church, he has been active in community development and the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. He is also honorary chairman of the Sudan Campaign, which he co-founded in 2001 to address issues of poverty and suffering in the African nation.