Martin Luther King Jr lecture
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Martin Luther King Jr lecture

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The best kept secret in music


"Walker delivers lecture in honor of King holiday"

by Andy Whipple
Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Stories on National radio and TV will run the “I have a dream” speech for the umpteenth time.

It’s been more than 30 years. Do King’s words still have their punch? Or are we weary of his preachy delivery and oversimplified idealism? And – as some may wonder politely to themselves – in an area so culturally and ethnically non-diverse as Central Oregon, what’s the point?

Actor/teacher Phillip E. Walker, who’ll be coming from the San Francisco area to deliver a lecture and an evening stage performance at Central Oregon Community College (COCC), is glad you brought it up.

“It’s a question we all should ask,” says Walker, “and one we should discuss, too.
The weariness people feel is in how we present King’s words and thoughts and philosophies,” he says.

“Remember, this man didn’t say anything all that revolutionary. But there was something about his time (the ‘60s) that allowed us to give it attention.”

Walker will speak on Martin Luther King Jr. for the New Millennium at 11am and perform Can I Speak For You, Brother? at 7pm. Each show is in Pinckney Auditorium. He and his wife, Dr. Ethel Pitts Walker, are the driving wheels behind the African American Drama Company. They have performed in every state (Monday’s events at COCC will be the Walkers’ third visit to Bend). During the first three months of 2000, their bookings will take them to 20 states.

“If you don’t travel a great deal,” Walker says, after reflecting on a question about responses from culturally non-diverse audiences, “you would be shocked to find out just how homogeneous America is. On the surface it doesn’t look like it. But at the base, the foundation, it’s basically the same stuff – the same fears, philosophies . . . the same images, the same conclusions.

“So that an undergrad at COCC in Oregon and another undergrad from the opposite end of the country – at Miami, say – are thinking the same things.”

Walker, who brings brains and a feel for language to his theater training, is warmed up.

“When I think about culture, I think about things established on different continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, South America. There are traits that make up these cultures. For instance: emotional expression is easier for Africans and Latins than for Europeans or Asians. That’s no judgment, it’s just one of the differences.

“If you have a audience of 100 people whose culture is to NOT express themselves emotionally, and they’re quiet, you may think they’re different. But they’re not. They’re expressing it differently. The values are the same; the heritage is different.

“We’re figuring out how to blend cultures – how to build a unified nation. Look at the history books, and what we have done is, one group overpowers another and forces them to adopt their values. And to express its culture only in dark corners.

“In America, we’re talking about a new experiment: Use some of that cultural expression to build a new nation. At some point we (the dominant culture) said, ‘Let’s USE the part we’re attracted to, and make it our own.’

“The problem is there are no darn benchmarks – no society to look back on. We’re inventing the wheel all the time. It’s a society built on money.”

“We have this strange kind of opportunity in America: a chance to create a new paradigm. But we’re not working on it. My sense is that the people are interested, but are not in a position to reach out and deal with it. They’re too busy getting things.

Walker’s lecture and stage performance are sponsored by COCC. Contact (541) 383-7596. - The Bend Oregon BULLETIN

"Mount students enjoy Martin Luther King, Jr., lecture in Knott"

by DALE RADER - Staff Writer
When students attend a lecture on Campus, often times they are uninterested, apathetic, and bored as they listen to the facts and statistics being thrown at them. However, on January 17, as soon as Phillip Walker took the stage in Knott Auditorium, the students seated in the audience realized that this was not going to be just another boring lecture.

Coming to Mount St. Mary’s College to speak in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Mr. Walker hails from California, where he is the Artistic Director for the African American Drama Company in San Francisco. Not only does he travel to colleges giving lectures, but he also performs a one man play, Can I Speak For You Brother?, which is an account of the history of African Americans.

The title of his lecture was Martin Luther King, Jr. for the New Millennium and Mr. Walker jumped right into it after a short introduction. He did not even wait until he had reached the podium before he started singing a song about Martin Luther King, Jr. After a few verses, he asked the audience to join in the chorus, and a few minutes later the students and staff members were actually smiling as they sang along.

Finishing his song, Mr. Walker went on to give a fascinating lecture. He was animated and funny, and the audience appreciated this aspect of his presentation. His lecture was about how Dr. King was “prepared for greatness from birth,” and what people today can do to acknowledge his legacy.

Mr. Walker concluded his lecture by challenging each member of the audience to find a way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day. He said that if we do not find a tradition in honor of Dr. King, the holiday will eventually be consumed by retailers.

After Mr. Walker’s speech, was over, it was apparent through the applause and the smiles on everyone’s faces that he had succeeded in avoiding the trap of the boring lecture.

Mr. Walker will return to the Mount on February 19 to perform his play in Flynn Hall at 7pm. - The Mt. St. Mary's MOUNTAIN ECHO


1. King's Preparation
2. King's Actions
3. King's Legacy
4. Building Future MLK Holiday Celebrations



Perhaps Walker has become one of America's most successful speakers not just due to his more than thirty (30) hours public speech training but also because of his over three (3) decades of teaching experience.

Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Art from the University of California~Davis.

Master of Arts in Theatre History/Criticism from the University of Illinois~Urbana.

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Loyola University of Chicago.

Philllip has worked in more than 300 live productions, modeling assignments, films, TV shows, etc. and has performed in every United State at least twice!

Full bio kept up to date at