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Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Events to be Virtual in 2021, Presentation, Film and Tribute Planned

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A variety of virtual presentations beginning Monday, Jan. 18 through Wednesday, Jan. 20 will comprise Ferris State University’s 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

Office of Multicultural Student Services Assistant Director Darnell Lewis said mainstay elements, such as the Freedom March that begins and ends at the University Center on the MLK holiday, will be set aside for 2021 in the interest of campus health and safety. A 5 p.m. Zoom presentation on Monday, Jan. 18 from author, educator and motivational speaker Steve Perry is part of the celebration.

“He reached out to us to serve as a presenter for this holiday, or some other cultural heritage event,” Lewis said. “We are looking forward to his talk, ‘Lessons We May Glean From MLK Jr., During the COVID-19 Pandemic,’ believing that this featured presentation will have a significant impact on all of our lives.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Office is seeking contributors for the 27th annual Faculty/Staff In-Service program from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. The themes “I have a dream for…” and “I can make the world better by…” are suggested prompts for short videos, which will be included in a Zoom presentation that morning. People who wish to participate should email their media contributions to Franklin Hughes with that office by Friday, Jan. 15.

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Lewis said an 11 a.m. presentation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “The Other America” comes to the Zoom link that will be valid for all OMSS presentations during the celebration week.

“This address was first offered at Stanford University in 1967 with parallels to many aspects of today’s society,” Lewis said. “After the excerpts of the speech, along with clips from the 1965 march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama, there will be a facilitated discussion to explore what actions can be taken to meet the goals outlined in Dr. King’s message.”

A traditional element of the MLK Celebration, the Student Tribute, will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. Lewis said those interested in presenting may submit readings, musical offerings or other elements via video. Interested participants should contact the OMSS for recommendations.

“We recognize it will be a challenge for our students due to several considerations,” Lewis said. “It is always our hope that the Tribute has real meaning and quality, to be a valid commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. I was impressed with the rapid effort made as I began my duties on campus in the ramp-up to our 2020 celebration. We will be happy to discuss and converse with students about their proposals for spoken word or other visual presentations.”

Lewis added that those with disabilities who are interested in participating in the MLK Celebration are encouraged to contact OMSS at least 72 hours in advance to accommodate. The office can be contacted by phone at (231) 591-2617 and email.