Although the national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s work only lasts one day, the University’s MLK Symposium has scheduled a wide variety of events that will last throughout this month to commemorate King’s legacy.
This year, the symposium’s theme focuses on the ideas of how power, justice and love operate in America, and how ideas about them have changed over time.
The symposium is organized through the University’s Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives and combines the efforts of faculty, staff, students and community members to bring in speakers and host discussions inspired by King’s ideals.
Lumas Helaire, assistant director for the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives and chair of the MLK Symposium, said the theme “heal the divide” arose when planners discussed how King’s work evolved during the years before he was assassinated.
Last year’s symposium focused on the 50th anniversary of King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. This year aims to address the subsequent actions he took to fight racism and injustice.
“King worked largely to bridge the divide between different groups and races that come from traumatic events in history,” Helaire said. “It’s great to be a part of something that honors one of our national heroes.”
The event’s website lists 19 different exhibitions, lectures, discussions and a poetry slam, all in celebration of the holiday. The program will begin on Monday.
Activist and performer Harry Belafonte will give one keynote memorial lecture in Hill Auditorium. Belafonte worked with King himself, as well as President John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela on justice issues. Belafonte is also the recipient of an Emmy Award, a Tony Award and a Grammy Award.
Motivational speaker Albert Mensah is scheduled to give a lecture at Rackham Auditorium later in the day. Phyllis Meadows, associate dean for practice and clinical professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health, will also give a speech about community health at the Dow Auditorium in the Towsley Center.
In the Modern Languages Building, the MLK Children and Youth Program will target a younger audience with storytelling and musical performances.
Students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance will perform at the Power Center as well. The performance will revolve around this year’s themes. The Michigan Community Scholars Circle of Unity will perform on the Diag as they sing in honor of King and his legacy.
Finally, an art exhibit in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery will be open starting Monday and continuing through Feb. 28 — documenting the history of race at the University from its founding to the present.