January 15, 2008

Variety of events to celebrate King's life, work

by Christi Mathis


CARBONDALE, Ill. — The life and work of one of the nation's most highly respected civil rights proponents will be the focus of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale beginning Jan. 20. "Passing the Torch from Generation to Generation" is the theme for the celebration.

The event is about "celebrating and pursuing a dream meant to diversify, unify and equalize all to one," said Jannika M. Sanderson, a freshman interior design and business marketing student from Sauk Village who is interning for SIUC Student Development and working with the commemoration.

The remembrance celebration includes a number of special events. Everything is free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Barry Scott will give a glimpse into who the late King was and what he stood for as the keynote speaker for a Jan. 22 commemorative event. Scott will re-enact several of King's most famous speeches. He's quite knowledgeable about King's life and works and garnered praise from the late Coretta Scott King for his realistic representation of her husband. Scott is the founder and artistic director of the American Negro Playwright Theater at Tennessee State University. He'll wrap up his presentation with a question and answer session.

The special week also includes a remembrance dinner featuring Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura S. Washington, an awards presentation, an open microphone night, a community project, a freedom march, a special exhibition and more.

"The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week is an important reminder that the work that Dr. King brought to the conscience of the world back in the 1960s and which is acknowledged through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday remains a work in progress," said Carl W. Ervin, coordinator of SIUC's Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. "It is a tap-on-the-shoulder week of events that brings Dr. King's legacy to the forefront of the educational experience and contributes to the development of well-educated, multi-culturally competent and socially responsible individuals."

"One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. is, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,'" said Sonia S. Garrett, graduate student in workforce education and development who is working as a graduate assistant in Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. "I believe that this quote is even more relevant today and reflects what is going on right now in America. Injustice, racism and inequality continue to plague our society. The purpose of Martin Luther King Jr. Week is to encourage people to think critically about Dr. King's legacy of community, freedom and social justice for all, and most of all, to honor his legacy by working to bring an end to these plagues."

The tentative complete schedule of SIUC's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week 2008 includes:

• Now through Friday, Jan. 25: Canned food drive community project. Organizers are collecting canned goods for area food pantries and banks. Collection boxes will be in place at all MLK Week events.

• Sunday, Jan. 20, 4 p.m.: Carbondale Community Celebration – The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois Ave., with community organizations as sponsors.

• Monday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m.: Freedom for All March, beginning at the Interfaith Center located at 913 S. Illinois Ave. and wrapping up at Carbondale's downtown pavilion. Everyone is welcome to participate in a march to remember the past and acknowledge the current struggles for freedom, justice and rights for all humans. The march will celebrate and remember the legacies of King, Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi and numerous others who fought for equality of all peoples.

• Tuesday Jan. 22, 7 p.m.: "Barry Scott: A Tribute to Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.," Student Center Auditorium. Scott will re-enact some of King's most famous speeches. The Voices of Inspiration and Underground Arts will also perform and they'll announce the winners of the Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority "I Have a Dream" essay and poster contests from the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale. Also speaking will be Demetrous White, president of the SIUC Undergraduate Student Government, and Carmen Suarez, director of the office of diversity and equity at SIUC. A U-Card event.

• Tuesday, Jan. 22-Tuesday, Jan. 29: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week special exhibit at the Student Center in the 51 South display case.

• Wednesday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m.: Underground Arts, the spoken word performance group, presents "Dr. King's Nightmare?" They'll consider the controversial Dr. MLK episode of the animated series "Boondocks", "where the 'N-word' flows like water down Niagara Falls," according to event organizers. A U-Card event.

• Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m.: Remembrance Dinner at Newman Center, 715 S. Washington St., with guest speaker Laura S. Washington, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Washington's experiences in print and broadcast journalism span more than two decades. A one-time deputy press secretary for the late Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor, Laura Washington has won numerous awards for her work. Her journalistic specialties include media-related issues, African-American affairs, local and national politics, social justice and race and racism.

The cross-cultural evening will focus on the continuing fight for social justice and the need to strive for fairness for everyone within campus and community. Special guests for the evening also include: Marilyn James, community relations officer for Carbondale; the Rev. Joseph A. Brown, professor and director for Black American Studies at SIUC; Dhrubodhi Mukherjee, School of Social work assistant professor; and Kouri Marshall, a graduate student in public administration at SIUC. A free U-Card event.

• Friday, Jan. 25, 6 p.m.: "Lift Every Voice Spoken Word Extravaganza," Grinnell Hall lower level. Members of the University community will step up to an open microphone in an evening of performances featuring the Africana Theater Lab and Black Togetherness Organization along with Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Beta Phi Pi Fraternity, Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority and other registered student organizations along with members of the audience at large. A U-Card event.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week sponsors are: the office of the associate chancellor (diversity), Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Generation Change, Africana Theater Lab, Beta Phi Pi Fraternity, Black Togetherness Organization, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Underground Arts, Student Development-Saluki Volunteer Corps, Undergraduate Student Government and Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services.

"MLK Week is a very important and crucial part of diversity here at SIUC," said Abed Abukhdair, a graduate student in electrical engineering from Cairo who also works as a graduate assistant with Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. "Dr. Martin Luther King's struggle during the civil rights movement is a reminder that people, not only here in the U.S. but also around the world, must continue to combat racial injustice and inequality. We as Americans have an obligation to promote equality, freedom and justice for all races through education and awareness while celebrating the rich cultures we all share."

For more information about the events, contact Student Development Multicultural Programs, located on the third floor of the SIUC Student Center, at 618/453-5714 or look online at www.stdev.siu.edu.

Barry Scott