MLK Day: Not a Day Off, but a Day for Action

  • January 14th, 2019

The University of Alabama is gearing up to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day like never before.Martin Luther King, Jr.

For years, the University has celebrated King’s legacy through the Realizing the Dream concert and community events, but now it’s expanding the celebration with the addition of more learning and engagement opportunities on the campus.

The University of Alabama Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee, a universitywide committee of faculty, staff and students was established this past fall with the goal of creating more learning opportunities for faculty, staff and students about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an increased emphasis on giving back. The committee chose “The Fierce Urgency of Now: A Day On – Not a Day Off!” as their theme, focusing on the importance of seeing the actual holiday, Jan. 21, as a time of service to give back to the community.

Dr. G. Christine Taylor, vice president and associate provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and co-chair, explained, “Dean Mark Nelson, the committee co-chair, and the other 15 faculty, staff and student committee members felt strongly that it was important to place emphasis on service and learning. One of Dr. King’s quotes that has guided our work on the committee is ‘Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?’ There are service opportunities coordinated through The University of Alabama Center for Service and Leadership. Others may choose to work with family or friends on projects such as cards for those who are sick, collecting items for food pantries, collecting coats … the list goes on. No matter what you do, make this day a day on and not a day off.”

To volunteer for the initiative, sign up at MLK Service Day Jan. 21 here. Those who participate in the month’s activities are encouraged to use #UAMLK2019 any time they post to social media.

In addition to the focus on service on the actual day, the committee has coordinated 12 additional learning and engagement opportunities sponsored by various colleges and offices at the university.

The featured events of the celebration include the film screening of “Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media,” 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, which explores King’s influence in the mass media. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the documentary’s producers, writers and directors.

Some of the others events in the initiative are a reading of King’s “The Other America,” “The Story Behind the First Biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” “The Business of a Bus Boycott,” “Hallowed Grounds Educational Tour” and “Addressing Disparities in the Black Belt: A Homegrown Solution,” and  “Color Blind or Color Brave

Also, “Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force Update: Patterns of Hope and Inclusion” will share information on phase one of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail and includes a panel discussion. Registration is required for this event.

The month concludes Jan. 31 with Meet You at the Table, an evening of celebration, reflection and sharing through word, dance and song on the life and legacy of Dr. King. Special guest will be the Rev.  Thomas Linton, a leader in the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Movement. Refreshments provided. The event begins at 6 p.m. Registration is required at diversity@ua.edu.

“Many times, particularly for students today, there’s a belief the civil rights movement happened a long, long time ago, but it is very much a part of contemporary history and it provides an important context for where we are today,” said Taylor.

To see the full list of events, go here.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.