MLK Jr. celebration set with speaker Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Polk County Thermal Belt Friendship Council will sponsor its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Friday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.

The event will be held at the Tryon Fine Arts Center located at 34 Melrose Avenue (Tryon).  Friendship Council President Dr. Joseph Fox said the organization’s goal each year is to provide a celebration for the public that is educational, informative and diverse, as well as entertaining.

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“We think that we are doing that once again through an outstanding speaker, a gifted soloist and a tribute to the Freedom Riders,” Dr. Fox said.

The speaker for the event is Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, CEO-President of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) Organization. SAAB is a national organization with more than 260 chapters in 40 states that endeavors to instill a “spirit of care” in, and enhance the experiences of, African American and Latino males in middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities. “Dr. Bledsoe was selected as this year’s speaker because of his ability to motivate and inspire not only youth and young adults, but everyone that he addresses. He is a man that is able to connect with his audiences in a unique and personal way. Growing up in Grenada, Miss., he experienced the Civil Rights Movement first hand,” Dr. Fox said.

Before transitioning to his current position with SAAB, Dr. Bledsoe served as vice president for student life and special assistant to the president at the University of Toledo.

He received his bachelor of arts and master of education degrees from Mississippi State University, and went on to complete a Ph.D. in counseling and student affairs administration with an emphasis in counseling psychology at the University of Georgia. Dr. Bledsoe’s academic and professional prowess is underscored by his recognition as Outstanding Doctoral Student in the State of Georgia, and more recently, his honor as Outstanding Doctoral Alumnus by the University of Georgia.

Dr. Bledsoe is a contributing author to the book “African American Men in College,” and his scholarly contributions were further solidified through his appearances on several talk shows to include Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s talk show, “Perfect Union,” where he discussed issues pertaining to African American and Latino males. Further, an international research team that addressed issues affecting men of color in Europe requested his expertise. In 1999, he was invited to serve as guest lecturer at the Oxford University Roundtable Institute in Oxford, England to discuss his work with the latter. Dr. Bledsoe is highly recognized by several professional associations for his research, publications, presentations and scholarly work.  Because of his many contributions to student affairs in higher education, his membership with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) led to his being distinguished as a Diamond Honoree.