How Colleges Honor Dr. Martin Luther King in Hosting Racial Healing Day |

Peaceful marches, powerful speakers and students serving their communities will highlight a week of activities.

Invisible History / Unsplash

“We can’t walk alone. One day, not a day off.”

These are two of the many beautiful themes highlighting the next few days of remembrance and celebrations to be held at colleges and universities across the country around Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day and National Ethnic Healing Day.

Thousands of institutions and organizations related to higher education will extend the January 17 celebration of Dr. King’s memory to January 18 and beyond, with peaceful rallies, extensive programs and community outreach projects to show solidarity and raise awareness about racial and social justice.

This mission is at the fore and center of Rutgers University again this year, which is hosting a week of virtual and live events on another topic — Healing in Action: Impact and Integration — where it will ask statewide participants how they can help promote, advance equity and inclusion. Rutgers is part of the American Association of Centers for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation in American Universities for Colleges and Universities that aim to stop systemic racism.

“Healing does not mean that we ignore or forget the damage and trauma that is present,” said Terek Rollon, a Rutgers student and TRHT coordinator. “It means we are no longer willing to allow this damage and trauma to control our lives.”

After a long weekend filled with celebrations culminating in MLK Day, on Tuesday colleges and universities will celebrate National Day of Racial Healing, begun six years ago by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to “restore our trust in each other, build authentic relationships and inspire teamwork.” ” AAC&U says honoring the quest for healing should be the organizations mission after this week.

“All higher education institutions must embrace the general purpose of higher education by addressing issues of moral and civic responsibility,” said Lynn Pasquierilla, president of AAC&U. “Determining the ways in which structural racism is perpetuated and eliminated belief in a hierarchy of human value are integral to the civic dimensions of liberal education as a force for the common good.”

Campus Celebrations

IDEALS at the University of Arkansas is helping bring residents together back in the day with an interactive virtual session called Race in the South, which will discuss the inequalities that once existed in the area. There’s also a nationwide virtual celebration from the Kellogg Foundation, attended by hundreds of thousands of attendees last year, which will be hosted by radio journalist Soledad O’Brien (who is also scheduled to appear at Oklahoma’s MLK gala Thursday), actress Julissa Calderon and activist Heather McGee.

Many eminent personalities will headline the events, including the former Foreign Minister Condoleezza Rice, who will headline a regional Martin Luther King celebration presented by Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday; A poet Nikki Finney At Vanderbilt University’s MLK Celebration on Monday; Singer and civil rights icon My Betty My Fix at Penn State University in Scranton on Tuesday. journalist Lisa Ling at the University of Nebraska on Thursday. And Cheryl Brown Henderson, the daughter of Oliver Brown from the famous case Brown v. Board of Education, at a joint event from the University of Davenport, Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College on Monday.

“Our annual celebration multiplies Dr. King’s historical reflections and philosophies for achieving a just and equitable society,” said Latoya Bowker, executive director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Davenport. Cheryl’s presentation, “Brown v. Board of Education: Continuing the Legacy,” will inspire attendees to confront persistent barriers to advancing educational equity.”


More from UB: Diversity Is Our Superpower: A Campus Leader’s Amazing Words About Equity


The University of Michigan hosts a slew of events around the MLK holiday and throughout January and February (which is Black History Month), including the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Seminar and this year’s panel discussion on compensation, including potential cash payments and college installments that may Be due to African Americans.

Charisse Borden Steele, a researcher in the Race and Capitalism Project at the University of Chicago and a professor at Carleton College, will deliver a keynote speech at Carleton’s Western University celebration Monday night with a look at “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tradition of Radical Blackness.”

The University of Richmond celebration We Can’t Walk Alone includes a dizzying array of activities and sessions, which are highlighted by community conversations about consent, respect for all religions, institutional history and relationships with slavery and “creating a more just world through the arts.” .

amazing work

Just over a week to honor those who were pioneers and address issues of race that still exist, many colleges and universities are giving back to their communities. The University of North Carolina encourages students to participate in a book reading campaign and to write letters of encouragement for those who have been imprisoned.

At nearby High Point University, students will attend Martin Luther King Jr.’s worship service on Monday before offering service support throughout the community. Among the amazing range of help that High Point offers:

  • Mobilization of 28,000 seeds for community gardens worldwide
  • Clean parks, green walkways and local food pantry
  • Write notes to first responders and thank them for their efforts
  • He collected about 50,000 meals to feed the hungry.

“HPU makes Martin Luther King Jr. a ‘day in a day, not a day off’ because Dr. King’s legacy requires that we serve and love our neighbors,” said Reverend Joe Plosser, executive director of the HPU Center for Community Engagement. “We honor Dr. King by educating ourselves on what justice requires of us, and by serving with our neighbors to build the beloved community here at High Point.”

Colorado State University is one of the many parades hosted in honor of Dr. King.

“We look forward to having significant participation in this important event, which not only celebrates our accomplishments, but underscores the need for further progress in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice,” said Bridget Johnson, Assistant Vice President at CSU. for overall excellence. “CSU and our partners are truly invested in making our community more socially just and inclusive.”

UNCF also hosts a number of events including its annual birthday celebration and awards in honor of Dr. King. For organizations looking for more direction and promotion capabilities, AAC&U has a number of resources available to help plan and promote events.

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