SSU guest speaker for MLK event marched with the Civil Rights Leader

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, January 9, 2010

PORTSMOUTH — In observation of the United States holiday, “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,” Shawnee State University has invited Rev. B. Wayne McLaughlin of Chillicothe as guest speaker for the event at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 13 in the University Center lobby.

McLaughlin was born and raised in southern Virginia during the late 1940s when racial segregation was widespread and considered “normal.”

He attended a segregated public school system in Pittsylvania County, Va., and as a young person he directly experienced the impact of the overt racial discrimination that was pervasive in that era.

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He was age 8 in 1955 when Rosa Parks sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement by defiantly sitting on the front seat of a public bus in Montgomery, Ala.

“Were it not for Dr. King advocating non violence by the marchers and especially to the students who followed his direction, I believe it would have been disastrous for America,” SSU’s Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Matt Matthews said.

McLaughlin was a junior in high school when he had the opportunity to march with King in 1963 during a civil rights rally in his home town.

And, he was a junior in college and participated in civil demonstrations when Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.

“If there was anyone who has first-hand experience from the trauma of those dark days of the struggle for equality and civil rights it would be B. Wayne McLaughlin,” Matthews said.

“At the time, I could only read about the dramatic experiences or watch the TV to get the horrible news — the news of African American children being bombed in their church or dogs being set upon the marchers, or fire hoses being directed towards student and protestors. It was a very frightening time for many, both black and white.”

McLaughlin clearly credits the Civil Rights Movement and the work of King and numerous other civil rights workers for creating the opportunities and successes he has experienced in life.

He graduated with honors from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. in 1969. Then through “doors that were opened” from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later Affirmative Action legislation, he began a successful career in the nuclear industry, primarily in Human Resources.

After retiring as a Human Resources Director from the Uranium Enrichment Plant in Piketon, Ohio, in 2000, McLaughlin worked four years as Human Resources director for the City of Chillicothe and at his present position as the executive director of Ross County Community Action, a multi-program social services organization based in Chillicothe.

McLaughlin is an ordained Baptist minister, speaking and singing in numerous services annually throughout southeastern Ohio.

He is a member of more than a dozen professional, social and civic organizations and has received numerous professional and community service awards.

He has been married to his wife, Gwen, for 30 years and they have two daughters, LaShandra and Nikki.