MLK 2018 Event

image1-16.jpg Jonathan Overby
Founder & Executive Director


Africasong Communications, Inc.
608 279-7000/7001
Toll Free 877 279-7077
PO Box 12
Columbus, WI 53925
Twitter: @jloverbyWorMus1
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In words and music, the State of Wisconsin celebrate the 38th Annual “Tribute & Ceremony” honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, January 15, 2018, 12 Noon, State Capitol Bldg. Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin.

Listen to the 2018 ceremony Part 1:

Listen to the 2018 ceremony Part 2:

Produced, directed and hosted by Dr. Jonathan L. Overby, with a call for peace, unity and the celebration of Wisconsin’s culturally diversity population, the program themed, “Do You Remember”, features music by the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, gospel music by Chicago’s The Victory Travelers, and guest speaker Muhibb Dyer.   



Muhibb Dyer has dedicated his life to helping others navigate their way through painful experiences and connect to their purpose. A native Milwaukeean, Dyer was born and raised in the infamous ‘53206’, the most incarcerated zip code in America. Despite the fact that many of his childhood  peers fell prey to homicide and incarceration he managed to survive the pitfalls of inner-city life and ultimately graduate from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Policies and Community Studies.

While still in college, Dyer discovered his passion for using his voice to give hope to the hopeless children of the ghetto, never forgetting the many that were not afforded the same opportunities that he was. 17 years later, he has reached a quarter of a million youth and professionals in more than 25 states through his emotionally charged keynote addresses, workshops and theatrical presentations.

Living by the mantra, “a man’s purpose can be found in his pain”, and following the tragic murder of his God-son, Preston Blackmer, Dyer co-founded the Flood the Hood with Dreams organization and The I Will Not Die Young campaign with Kwabena Antoine Nixon. His work through these organizations provides a platform for keeping his promise to Preston that his death was not in vain.

Dyer has been asked to share his wisdom on various television and radio programs and has garnered support for the continuation of his work with youth across the globe. He is driven to prove to all those who are willing to listen, the influence that one man can have, regardless of where he comes from, if he uses his God given voice for change.


People throughout the state and around the world were able listen live on Wisconsin Public Radio at, Wisconsin Public Television’s Wisconsin Channel and will also air the program live online. A one-hour MLK Highlights broadcast aired on Wisconsin Public Television at 9:30 p.m. on the 15th.  To view the broadcast visit, and details coming on how to hear the WPR audio edition coming soon.



Many thanks to our sponsors who helped make the 2018 event possible.



Sincere thanks to Jonathan Grambling, Editor of The Capitol Hues for dedicated coverage of the MLK event.


MLK 2018 3a N12a Welcome by Dr. Jonathan Overby 20180115 120550 _3XC7779_HDDxO.jpg

Photos of the 2018 MLK Event Are in Production


This annual commemoration has the distinguished honor of being the oldest official state commemoration for Dr. King in the U.S.  This proud event occurs in the seat of our State government while serving as a powerful and symbolic statement to many around the world.

Beginning in 1980, Wisconsin’s King celebration has featured many prominent leaders as guest speakers including actors Ruby Dee, Cecily Tyson, Clifton Davis and Paul Winfield, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, Ambassador Attallah Shabazz-the eldest daughter of Malcolm X, Mamie Till-Mobley-mother of Emmitt Till, Civil Rights activist Rev. C.T. Vivian-former presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, Roland Martin, and Van Jones.


Debbie Biddle, Chair 2018 MLK Planning Group – is a leadership development coach and diversity and inclusion workshop facilitator, writer and speaker.  As founder of High Performance Development Solutions, Deborah is known for her calm, levelheaded approach in developing individuals and teams to reach their desired goals.  She serves as the Madison community as Arts & Letters chair of the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., grants committee member of A Fund For Women and chair of Wisconsin’s 38th Annual MLK Tribute & Ceremony. She has served as a member of the MLK Planning Group since 2015.

For More Information Contact:
Dr. Jonathan L. Overby, Executive Producer/Host
c/o Wisconsin Public Radio – USA, 821 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706  UW-Madison campus office 608 263-4104

608 279-7000/7001
Toll Free 877 279-7077


Greetings and thank you for visiting AFRICASONG.

In Outre-mer: A pilgrimage beyond the sea, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1835) described his travels around Europe and, what he learned about culture and society during his excursions.  He stated, “music is the universal language of mankind”.  I resonate with his conclusion and I believe in the power of music to create increased understanding about those who are different.  This idea is shared by many in the music world and it serves, informs and in fact, inspired the creation of AFRICASONG.

Africasong’s mission is dedicated to the presentation of edifying culturally-inclusive productions and events, education, publications and research on diverse forms of music.

Africasong’s campaign serves as a means to illuminating varied artists, the findings of musicologists, world music enthusiasts, performers and composers, as well as the overwhelming collective of marginalized groups around the globe who musical voices are often misunderstood.  Africasong believes in helping to further create, promote, and sustain a world where all and not just some are remembered, edified and celebrated through the transformative power of music created around the globe.


Since the beginning of time, humans have struggled to find a binding cure for human hatred.  Slain U.S. Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., held that hatred paralyzes, darkens, and confuses life (King, Jr., 1963).

History’s not so distant past reveals that hatred played a role in the enslavement of Africans in America and the persecution of Jews in Germany.  More recently, hatred resulted in massive genocide in Rwanda, civil war that engulfed Uganda, ethnic strife in Sierra Leone, the cruelty of apartheid in South Africa, and widespread murder in the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.  The tragic event of 9-11, recent attacks in Paris and beyond, provide only a modest representation of a much broader global challenge linked to human hatred, intolerance and humanity’s failure to embrace and celebrate difference.

AFRICASONG was created in 1992 as a response to episodes of hatred in the U.S. as well as other worldwide acts where misplaced nationalism, deeply held racism, gender discrimination, xenophobia, religious intolerance as well as the horrific violence that contributes to the disease of human hatred around the world.


AFRICASONG will host the Sacred World Music Research Project that will explore various genre’s of sacred music around the globe.  Many of the discoveries will be posted here and will include historical practices, ideas, narratives, photos, video and shared conversations “in the field” as a means of providing a scholarly and culturally inclusive review of sacred expressions through world music.  As the primary investigator on the project, I hope to learn if increased understanding of the daily rituals, traditions, customs and beliefs of diverse groups, may lead to reduced human hatred (see the Sacred World Music page for more details).

Thank you for visiting AFRICASONG.  Along with other supporters, I look forward to the future and how we might better serve celebrate and illumine diverse communities “near and far”.

Asante Sana,


For more information about your tax deductible gift
call 608 279-7000, 608 279-7001
Toll Free 877 279-7077 or write to us care of
PO Box 12 Columbus, WI 53925


Africasong Communications, a not-for-profit 501C3 registered with the State of Wisconsin, in the United States.  It is a charitable agency dedicated to culturally inclusive programming, education, music productions and publications designed to educate, edify and entertain.

Since Africasong’s official beginning in January 2000, our onus of drawing diverse cultures together in a variety of celebratory settings remains at the core of our programming efforts.

We believe that the arts serve as a powerful venue for building bridges between different groups by illuminating their contributions to our collective way of life and culture here in Wisconsin and beyond.

We hope you agree and moreover, we hope you’ll help us continue to build lasting bridges across racial, religious, social, geographic and cultural lines, by supporting our efforts with your personal financial pledge. We need your help to sustain “good community” throughout Wisconsin, our nation and the world.

Help Africasong celebrate, edify, educate and entertain audiences through it efforts to render inclusive and diverse programming designed to illumine diverse cultures around the world as a means of reducing human hatred with the hope of securing increased understanding of those who are ‘different’.

2017 Board Members
Rev. Vern Visick, Chair
Amy T. Overby, Managing Director
Deborah Biddle, Member At Large, July 1, 2016
Seeking New Board Members for 2018 
Nominations and Applications in writing only maybe sent to
PO Box 12
Columbus, WI 53925


2018 MLK Event is dedicated to the memory of Rev. Dr. Vernon Visick, friend, mentor, colleague and often the underwriter of the King event during its earliest years of development.   “Vern’s” faithful service to Africasong and the annual MLK event will deeply be missed.

The Reverend Dr. Vernon M. Visick Memorial Service in Celebration of His Life & Legacy “May his spirit be abundant among the living” was celebrated Friday, September 22, 2017 5:00pm First United Methodist Church, Madison, Wisconsin

5961255fe2709.image.jpgMADISON / CLAREMONT, Calif. – Minister, educator, scholar, ethicist, environmentalist, visionary activist for peace, social justice and earth care, the Reverend Dr. Vernon Mansell Visick, age 78, formerly of Madison, died unexpectedly in California, on June 18, 2017, following a brief illness.


Vern is best recognized for his 23 years of inspired service as a campus minister in the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus community. Beginning in 1975, at Madison Campus Ministry (MCM), a broad ecumenically supported religious program based at Pres House, Vern’s ministry was notable. It culminated in his earning the Francis Asbury Award for “creativity in campus ministry programming” in 1996. His prolific wide-ranging, collaborative leadership, and participation in a variety of religious endeavors extended throughout the Madison community, the state, nationally and internationally.


As the eldest of six children, born in Spokane, Wash., to John Francis Visick, an Evangelical United Brethren minister, and Lorraine Visick, (nee Paulson), Vern developed a strong sense of faith, family and the importance of nurturing relationships. This was reflected in his sustained lifelong commitments, both personal and professional. Educated in California public schools, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. His compelling interest in theology and ethics led to his obtaining a Master of Divinity degree at Evangelical Theological Seminary (now Garrett-Evangelical) in Naperville, Ill. He was ordained as a United Methodist minister in 1964. He completed a second master’s degree in 1975 at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Mr. Visick later earned his Ph.D. degree in Ethics and Society, with an emphasis on religion and personality, at The University of Chicago Divinity School. His doctoral thesis, which focused on theologian Paul Tillich and the university, provided a foundation for numerous lectures, publications, seminars, workshops, conferences, campus, and community events, which he masterfully created and nurtured throughout his life. He frequently was referred to as “an organizer’s organizer” and a “servant leader”. A soft-spoken, modest individual, he most often was found moving events forward behind the scenes, far from center stage.


Through MCM, some of Dr. Visick’s accomplishments included: his creative collaboration in organizing and then leading for 15 years, the “Agenda for a Prophetic Faith” lecture series, the largest and longest running series of lectures on religion, politics and economics in the United States; capably assisting since 1987 in organizing the annual state-wide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first such official celebration in the country; his early state of Wisconsin leadership in drawing attention to the emerging issue of sexual exploitation by clergy, priests, therapists, physicians and other professionals.

For two decades, Vern’s ministry and vision included practical support through workshops for helping students and members of the wider community engage in career development and job search strategies for securing employment in a tough job market. He worked collaboratively with CALA (Community Action on Latin America), an outgrowth of his faith commitment to the Liberation Theology movement, which culminated in his organizing a major symphonic performance of “Symphony of the Two Worlds”. This powerful community-wide event brought the exiled Brazilian Roman Catholic Archbishop of Recife and the symphony’s French composer to Madison.

In addition, Vern worked quietly for years with affected families on cult deprogramming for students. Serving as an academic consultant on the film “Hellfire: Journey from Hiroshima”, he called attention to the devastating impact and future threat of nuclear weapons. Vern educated others about the perils of local and global human trafficking. He continued to seek inspiration in recent days from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and the prophet Jeremiah as trustworthy guides for these “unnerving” times.

Vern served on the board of The Madison Institute, a progressive “think tank”, contributing to its impressive programming for more than decade. He and a campus colleague also were instrumental in the establishment of a Native American campus home and program, personally mentoring and supporting its student residents.

As board president of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Vern fostered the development of Concerts on the Square. He was a board member and VP of Africasong, working with others to create an African-American Festival to address racial tension on campus, followed by ongoing gospel concerts on State Street Mall. He championed the “Wisconsin Idea”. All of these initiatives reflect Vern’s commitment to making our community better.

Dr. Visick served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies, having planned to attend in August a program honoring its founder and director, a professor emeritus at UW-Madison, with whom he founded the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists.

From 2003-2008, Vern was director of New College-Madison, “an experiment in prophetic ministry”, which highlighted the ethical issues that arise between the church and the research university, again focusing upon economic, political and societal impact.

During the past seven years, Vern resided at Pilgrim Place, a progressive ecumenical retirement community in Claremont, Calif. He expanded his long-standing ethics and society focus to include strong participation in organizing local environmental action groups and a major international conference emphasizing critical environmental, economic and political issues.

In 2015, the most recent: “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Eco-logical Civilization”, drew more than 400 global participants to Claremont. He was a founder of the Citizens Climate Lobby (Inland Valley Chapter), an advocacy organization, focused on national policies to address climate change. He and Claremont friends and colleagues also revived the “Agenda for a Prophetic Faith” lecture series.

Hicks PK.pngVern sent out this holiday greeting to his friends, colleagues and family each year.

Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1834, E. Hicks (public domain–prep. by Holly Galt)
Then a shoot shall grow from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall spring from his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   a spirit of counsel and power,
   a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what he sees
nor decide by what he hears;
   he shall judge the poor with justice,
   and defend the humble in the land with equity; 
   his mouth shall be a rod to strike down the ruthless,
   and with a word he shall slay the wicked.
Round his waist he shall wear the belt of justice,
   and good faith shall be the girdle round his body.
     Then the wolf shall live with the sheep,
      and the leopard lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall grow up together,
and a little child shall lead them; 
   the cow ant the bear shall be friends,
   and their young shall lie down together.
The lion shall eat straw like cattle;
the infant shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the young child dance over the viper’s nest.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; 
   for as the waters fill the sea,
so shall the land be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
   On that day a scion from the root of Jesse
   shall be set up as a signal to the peoples; 
   the nations shall rally to it,
   and its resting place shall be glorious.
Is. 11:1-10 NEB

During the months preceding his death, Vern was immersed in an emergency fund-raising effort for the preservation of the Pando Forest, an extraordinary grove of aspen trees in Utah. It is cited as the largest and one of the oldest single living organisms on earth, connected by its complex ancient single root system, currently estimated to exceed 80,000 years.

A thoughtful, trusted, loyal, compassionate friend, Vern will be greatly missed by many. He was a consummate listener and gifted problem solver. So many friends, family members, colleagues, students, and others were the benefactors of his affirming, imaginative, nonjudgmental wisdom and unselfish support.




Dr. Jonathan L. Overby, Founder and Executive Director

Africasong is seeking additional board members – to apply, call
608 279-7001 or e-mail:

Former Africasong Board Members
Oscar Mireles, Omega School – Chair

Walter L. Smith, Jr. Graybar Electric Company, Milwaukee
Alfred Hall WI Department of Regulation and Licensing
Lucille Badger, W.O.R.T. Radio host and WNWC Radio, 102.5 FM, Madison



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