January 07, 2009

Week-long observance celebrates King’s life, legacy

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week 2009 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate the life, dream and legacy of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“The MLK Recognition Week provides a great kickoff to the semester and the new year as it reminds us of Dr. King’s legacy while it reinvigorates the possibilities present in today’s world for making a personal commitment to social and economic awareness, justice and equity for all,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services.

Special activities are set for Jan. 18-24 on the SIUC campus and in the Carbondale area. King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and this year’s Martin Luther King holiday is celebrated Jan. 19.

“It is important to understand that Dr. King’s work was not just for his generation but for generations to come,” said Jeff McGoy, coordinator of New Student Programs. “The legacy and struggle to do the right thing continues and is not to be forgotten.”

That sentiment is reflected in this year’s theme, “Make the Dream a Reality.”

“Martin Luther King stood for so many things that are still relevant today: social justice, human rights, racial reconciliation and more,” said Iesha Moná Wilson, SIUC AmeriCorps VISTA member.

The various events and programs bring together the campus and surrounding community in honor of the pastor, reformer and activist felled by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968.

“The week is both a commemoration and an inspiration,” said Andy Morgan, coordinator of Student Development-Greek Life. “It allows us to remember the past and shows us where we are capable of going.”

Activities during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week, open to the public and free unless otherwise noted, include:

• Sunday, Jan. 18, 4 p.m.: Carbondale Community Celebration -- The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois Ave. Community organizations are sponsoring this event.

• Monday, Jan. 19 through Saturday, Jan. 24: Food drive. Throughout the week, as a community project, bring canned goods to fill collection boxes at the various MLK Week events. Items collected will go to local food banks in honor of King.

• Monday, Jan. 19, 7-11 a.m.: 27th annual MLK Commemorative Breakfast at SIUC’s Grinnell Hall; tickets are $5 at the door. “How the Founding of the NAACP 100 Years Ago Helped to Pave the Way for the Work of Reverend Dr. Martin L. King Jr.” is the theme of this year’s gathering, sponsored by the Carbondale branch of the NAACP. The speaker is Jeanelle Norman, third vice president of the Illinois State Conference of NAACP Branches. Also slated is a quiz segment, particularly involving youth.

11 a.m.: Freedom-For-All March beginning at the Interfaith Center at 913 S. Illinois Ave. and ending at Carbondale’s downtown pavilion. Students, faculty, staff and community members will join in this march of remembrance that also recognizes the ongoing struggle for freedom, justice and human rights throughout the world.

• Tuesday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m.: “Dreaming in the Classroom: Whiteness and Institutional Accountability,” in the Mississippi Room on the second floor of the SIUC Student Center. John T. Warren, speech communication associate professor, utilizes King’s writings along with Warren’s classroom work and current data about “whiteness” as a system of power to illustrate the obstacles of all kinds that block daily opportunities for realizing King’s dream for a land where freedom and justice always prevail.

• Wednesday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m.: “What’s Going On?” in Ballroom B on the second floor of the Student Center. The evening features a live performance by Underground Arts, followed by a showing of the film “Waging a Living,” depicting America’s working poor -- those who work hard all their lives and follow the rules but never seem to get ahead. As they struggle through the minefields of politics and prejudice, they tell their own stories. Facts about poverty and social injustice are interlaced between the interviews.

• Thursday, Jan. 22, 6 p.m.: Remembrance dinner and celebration at the Newman Catholic Student Center. The event features a free meal and as special guest, Jane Adams, professor, 1964 freedom fighter and 1960’s anti-Vietnam War activist. The film “Race: Mississippi” will be screened too. Attire is business casual. Those planning to attend should RSVP no later than Jan. 19 by calling 618/453-5714. It’s a U-Card event too.

• Friday, Jan. 23, 3-8 p.m.: “Minority Business Expo: Celebrating the Spirit of Entrepreneurship.” Admission to the business expo is $5.

“MLK recognition allows the students to focus on the importance of respect and acceptance,” said Brittany McElroy, coordinator of New Student Programs.

Sponsors for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week 2009 include: Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Beta Phi Pi Fraternity, Black Togetherness Organization, Interfaith Center, Newman Catholic Center, office of the associate chancellor (diversity), Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, the speech communication department, Student Development-Saluki Volunteer Corps, Underground Arts, and Mu Eta Zeta (graduate chapter Zeta Phi Beta Sorority).

“MLK Recognition Week is a learning opportunity. It is a chance for people to get involved, educated and enlightened,” said Amanda Phillips, coordinator of Student Development- Leadership and Involvement Programs.

For more information and additional schedule details, visit Student Development-Multicultural Programs on the third floor of the SIUC Student Center, call 618/453-5714 or look online at www.stdev.siu.edu.