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Week long Series of Events Highlight Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

pictureBIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University’s 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration begins Jan. 18 in recognition of the historic contributions of the legendary civil rights leader.

The theme of this year’s celebration, as presented by the Office of Multicultural Student Services, is “The Jim Crow Era: Then & Now” and is comprised of a number of events designed to provoke thoughtful and meaningful discussion as a campus community on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Featured events during this year’s celebration include: the OMSS Annual MLK Freedom March at 3 p.m. on Jan. 18 starting at Merrill/Travis Hall; The N*W*C* Show, a five-star campus event geared toward a PG-13 audience using a unique brand of humor mixed with strong language to challenge stereotypes in a play format at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20 in G. Mennen Williams Auditorium; and a presentation by David Pilgrim, chief diversity officer at Ferris, titled “Stories of Activism” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 in IRC Auditorium 120.

The goal of organizers is to help the Ferris community better understand society then and now, with the interactive programs stressing how far the nation has come and the need for further action by today’s generations, said Michael Wade, who co-chairs the MLK Planning Committee with Hurdylyn Woods, assistant director of Residential Life.

“Ferris State University’s Office of Multicultural Student Services strives to continue to make relevant the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through this annual celebration, as each year a new generation of students come to campus. That poses a unique opportunity to teach and spread the word of King’s dream to more students,” said Wade, who also serves as assistant director of OMSS. “The 2010 MLK Celebration Planning Committee aims to educate the university community through reflection on the past, a significant examination of the present and a collective commitment to be a more inclusive community in the future.”

Andrew Manardo, a senior majoring in Applied Speech Communication who is a member of the MLK Jr. Celebration Planning Committee, has a special appreciation for what Ferris does to promote the messages of King and celebrate his contributions to society.

“Before transferring to Ferris, I had never seen MLK Jr. celebrated in such a way. At FSU, the MLK Celebration lasts all week and is not just one day. I am glad to see that and be a part of it,” said Manardo, a native of Grosse Pointe who graduates in May. “More people need to witness and understand what Dr. King’s words have done for this world. I hope a lot of people show up for the festivities so they can see how far we as a country have come.”

Organizers also hope the celebration will engage the local community, with events free and open to the public. In addition, the MLK Planning Committee will collect nonperishable food items during the celebration to be donated to Women’s Information Services, Inc., the local women’s shelter.

Additional MLK Celebration activities also include: “Privilege Activity: Breaking Down Barriers” at noon on Jan. 19 in the Student Recreation Center; the showing of Jim Crow-era videos from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 18 through 21 in the Rankin Student Center Art Gallery/Atrium; the Tunnel of Oppression/Room of Action Exhibit, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 18 through 21 in rooms 153 and 155 of the Rankin Student Center; and “Privilege Activity: The N*W*C* Show Reactions/Hateful Words” at 11 a.m. in the Student Recreation Center on Jan. 21.

“Ferris continues to truly value diversity as shown through its consistent commitment to initiatives such as the MLK Celebration,” Wade added.

For more information, or if you need special accommodations to attend the events, call OMSS at (231) 591-2617 a minimum of 72 hours in advance.