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VCU prepares for weeklong celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Update: Due to weather closure today, Jan. 17, all MLK Week events scheduled for today, including the keynote address with Martin Luther King III, have been cancelled.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week takes place Monday, Jan. 15, to Sunday, Jan. 21.

WEATHER UPDATE (Jan. 17): Virginia Commonwealth University is closed Jan. 17 due to inclement weather. As a result, all MLK Week events scheduled for Wednesday, including the keynote address with Martin Luther King III, have been cancelled. Information about rescheduling any events will be shared with the VCU community as it is available.


 

Virginia Commonwealth University’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week takes place Monday, Jan. 15, to Sunday, Jan. 21. The week’s events, which serve as a kickoff to the spring semester, offer an opportunity to honor and raise awareness of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. VCU and communitywide educational programs commemorate his distinguished contributions, leadership, spirit of service and dedication to nonviolence and justice.

This year’s events are sponsored by the Division for Inclusive Excellence and supported by a number of campus units. The week includes opportunities for arts, education, service and reflection on King’s life and legacy, and even a keynote address on Wednesday, Jan. 17, by Martin Luther King III, a human rights advocate, community activist, political leader and the oldest son of King.

Beverly Walker, program manager for career development in the HR Redesign Project Office, is the co-founder and fundraising chair of MLK Celebration Week. “What better way for our campus and community to learn more about Dr. King then from his own son, Martin Luther King III,” Walker said. “I’m excited that our students will have a chance to really engage with Mr. King and connect to our past, and be inspired for the future.”

Students and other members of the VCU community participate in a discussion with activist Bree Newsome at a 2016 MLK Week event.
<br>File photo
Students and other members of the VCU community participate in a discussion with activist Bree Newsome at a 2016 MLK Week event.
File photo

Reggie Stroble, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and co-chair of the MLK Celebration Week planning committee, said he is excited about introducing King’s life and legacy to students who might only be familiar with some of his ubiquitous sound bites.“We’re going to talk about Dr. King in a deeper sense,” said Stroble, who is spearheading a “More than a Soundbite” teach-in. “[We will be] looking at more than just the ‘I have a dream’ speech and actually going through his life starting at early childhood.”

This year’s theme, “50 years later: Don’t sleep on the dream,” was chosen in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s death on April 4, 1968. Guests who attend events will have an opportunity to learn more about King’s lasting legacy and engage in making their community a better place for all.

“This year serves a critical point for us to stop and commemorate King’s powerful leadership and legacy, while also finding within ourselves the power to make real change in our community,” said Corey Boone, assistant director in the Office of Events and Special Programs and a member of the MLK Celebration Week planning committee.

Selected MLK Celebration Week events include:

 

Volunteer opportunities

Lunch Buddies at MLK Middle School: Friday, Jan. 19, 10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  

Lunch Buddies provides an opportunity to share lunch and conversation with a young person at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. Feel free to bring your lunch or purchase one at the school. Three shifts are available. Transportation is provided, but registration is required. Register at mlkday.vcu.edu.

Evergreen and East End Cemeteries Cleanup: Saturday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

VCU faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited to volunteer as part of “Service Saturday” with the Evergreen and East End Cemetery restoration projects. Evergreen and East End cemeteries are the resting places for notable Richmond leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Maggie Walker and John Mitchell Jr. Volunteers will remove vegetation and litter and uncover Richmond history. Transportation is provided, but registration is required. Register at mlkday.vcu.edu.

In addition, VCU provides employees with 16 hours of leave for community service opportunities. Faculty and staff members are encouraged to use this leave for projects during normal business hours of the MLK Celebration Week.

 

Donation opportunities

School Supply Collection Drive: Monday, Jan. 15 – Friday, Jan. 19

Collection of school supplies to benefit the students of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School will occur throughout the celebration week at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Commons Room 215, Monroe Park Campus, and Hunton Student Center, Room 205, MCV Campus.

Blood Drives: Wednesday, Jan. 17 – Thursday, Jan. 18

Participants can continue King’s legacy of service by donating blood from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Court End and Jackson Ward Rooms in Larrick Student Center on Wednesday, Jan. 17. An additional blood drive will occur Thursday, Jan. 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Commonwealth Ballroom in the University Student Commons.

 

Selected Events

The VCU community gathers on The Compass last year for a candlelight vigil honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
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The VCU community gathers on The Compass last year for a candlelight vigil honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
File photo

MLK Silent Candlelight Vigil: Monday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m.

A candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Participants will engage in a silent vigil and march starting at The Depot. This event will include a brief dialogue on King’s legacy. 

MLK Birthday Celebration: Tuesday, Jan. 16, noon

VCU community members will celebrate King’s contributions and principles with cupcakes and a banner signing at University Student Commons Lobby Tables 1-2, Monroe Park Campus, and Patterson Memorial Gardens (next to Hunton Student Center), MCV Campus.

“More than a Soundbite” Teach-In: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m., Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Room 215, University Student Commons, Monroe Park Campus

Faculty, staff and students will discuss and learn about the stories behind King’s most famous speeches.

MLK Legacy Night: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 6 p.m., Richmond Salons, University Student Commons, Monroe Park Campus

Faculty, staff and students are invited to an evening of fun, reflection and novelty! Guests can create unique keepsakes, take photos with fun props, enjoy light refreshments and more. All activities will signify or represent aspects of King’s legacy.

Martin Luther King III will provide keynote remarks Jan. 17 as part of VCU’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week.
Martin Luther King III will provide keynote remarks Jan. 17 as part of VCU’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week.

MLK Week Keynote Speaker, Martin Luther King III: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:15 p.m.)

Human rights advocate, community activist and political leader Martin Luther King III will provide keynote remarks in the University Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballroom. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney will moderate the event, which is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Overflow seating for the livestream of the remarks will be offered in the University Student Commons, Richmond Salons.  Go to mlkday.vcu.edu to register.

MLK Community Dinner: Sunday, Jan. 21, 4 p.m.

Guests can enjoy keynote remarks from Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., president of Virginia State University, catering from Mama J’s and entertainment for the conclusion of MLK Celebration Week. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Go to mlkday.vcu.edu to register.

For a complete schedule of MLK Week events visit mlkday.vcu.edu.

VCU students will participate in a candlelight vigil Monday.
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VCU students will participate in a candlelight vigil Monday.
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