Scheduled for the third Monday of each January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the day set aside in the United States to honor Dr. King and the work he did as a leader and activist during the Civil Rights Movement. Even more than that, this holiday serves as a reminder of the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy as a country and as communities while it encourages us to continue the cause of social justice for all.
As it says on the U’s website, “…We celebrate the educational access and opportunities that Dr. King’s legacy has provided in the United States. MLK week has become a platform to engage students, faculty, staff and community members in critical conversations around contemporary Civil Rights issues and race in America.”
As a university fiercely devoted to advocating for civil rights and social justice, the U has organized a slew of events throughout the week in honor of MLK day. The MLK Celebration will be held Jan. 14 – 21 this year.
On Jan. 14 at Kingsbury Hall, Taylor Mac will be performing songs from 1946-1976 and from the Stonewall Riots, focusing specifically on the Civil Rights Movement. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m.
On Jan. 16 there will be a Rally and March at East High School beginning at 2:30 p.m. This event will commemorate the steps Dr. King took towards equality and create a new opportunity for future activists.
At Kingsbury Hall on Jan. 18, Atlantic writer and social critic Ta-Nehisi Coates, will be speaking at 12:00 p.m. Coates is also an educator. His focuses include cultural, political and social issues regarding African-Americans. Due to the popularity of this speaker, the event will also be streamed live to the Chamber Music Hall within the David Gardner Hall/School of Music, and the East Ballroom within the Union.
In an effort to acknowledge systemic racism, Jan. 19 will feature a panel discussion titled “We Live It. We Breath It.” The discussion will examine what types of systemic racism already exist in our society and how the system can be changed. The panel is inspired by Spelman College writer and educator, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum and will be led by a variety of students and professors, some of whom include Erika George (Law Professor), Maria Ledesma (Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy), Kilo Zamora (Gender Studies Assistant Professor), Franci Taylor (Director of American Indian Resource center), and Alexis Baker (Undergrad student). The panel will be held 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Old Moot Courtroom (bldg. 73, room 110). Pizza will be served.
And finally, to appropriately conclude the commemorative week, Saturday will feature a Day of Service. The Bennion Center has teamed up with numerous agencies within Salt Lake to provide service projects for the student body. Some of these services include First Step House, Utah Food Bank, Service Corner, American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, Maliheh Free Clinic, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Friends for Sight. Volunteer pre-registration, which is required to participate, can be found here: http://bennioncenter.org/forms/mlk-service-day.php. Any additional questions should be forwarded to Bryce Williams at (801) 581-4811.
For more details regarding MLK week, visit the University website: http://diversity.utah.edu/mlk/