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University to Host Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Beginning Jan. 20

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration“Together We Will…” is the theme of Ferris State University’s 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The series of events, organized in honor of one of history’s most influential civil rights leaders, begins Monday, Jan. 20 and runs through Thursday, Jan. 23.

“This is an important annual celebration,” said Michael Wade, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services and co-chair of the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee. “With this year’s theme, our goal is for our campus community to embrace the thought of collectively addressing, challenging and creating solutions for the issues of today in the spirit of Dr. King.”

MLK events are free and open to the university community and the public.

The events include the Tunnel of Oppression exhibit between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. The tunnel is an interactive activity that is designed to introduce participants to the concepts of oppression, privilege and power. Participants are guided through a series of scenes that aim to educate and challenge people to think more deeply about oppression. Tours conclude with an opportunity for the participants to discuss their experiences with each other and facilitators. The exhibit will be located in the Ward Hall basement and is coordinated by the Residence Life Harmony Project.

During each day of the celebration, participants are invited to visit MLK stations in the IRC Connector from 12 to 4 p.m.  The stations feature an “I March For/I Stand For” banner station where signs can be created in order to promote awareness of civil rights and social justice issues. The stations also include an “MLK Food Stock Drive Drop-Off.”  People are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation to local Big Rapids agencies assisting those in need.

“Our hope for the banner station is that people will write down what they stand for and that they become advocates for something,” said Franklin Hughes, a multimedia specialist in the Diversity and Inclusion Office and co-chair of this year’s celebration planning committee. “In higher education, it is imperative for students to see the importance of diversity and that they understand that they themselves are part of what a diverse community means.”

On Monday, Jan. 20, the 28th annual Freedom March begins at 3 p.m. in the IRC Connector and concludes at Williams Auditorium. The march concludes with refreshments, brief comments and a special documentary presentation.

“The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,” hosted by noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., will be shown at 4 p.m. in Williams Auditorium. The episode, “Rise! The Road to Civil Rights (1940-1968),” is the fifth of the six-part series. The series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives that were developed.

“This exclusive screening is a great ending to the march as participants will get the opportunity to see why we have a march,” Hughes said. “We need to understand the immense courage and fortitude it takes to stand up against injustice and hopefully this will inspire more of us to act on the injustices in our world today.”

Student volunteers will prepare, host and serve people in need during the Day of Service Project: Community Meal.  This community outreach effort will take place at First United Methodist Church at 6 p.m.  For details and volunteer opportunities, contact Danielle Leisner at [email protected].

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, a #Twitchat event called “Tunnel Talkback” will take place at 6 p.m. in the Ward Hall lobby basement.  Students are encouraged to attend, but can also join the conversation from almost anywhere via Twitter and Facebook by using #FerrisMLK and mentioning @FSUOMSS. The event is an open discussion on the Tunnel of Oppression that will be hosted by Residence Life’s Harmony Project.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the annual MLK Student Tribute will be held at 7 p.m. in Williams Auditorium.  Groups and students from Ferris and the Big Rapids community will present a variety of presentations.  Featured presenters will be “The Dark Noise Collective,” a multiracial, multi-genre tour featuring exciting, insightful and powerful spoken word artists.  The performances focus on many subjects, including race, gender, religious exploration, queer identity, hip-hop culture and radical truth-telling.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, the MLK Food Stock Drive Drop-Off will be held between 5 and 8 p.m. in conjunction with the Ferris men's and women's basketball games in Wink Arena. The men's and women's basketball teams take on Northwood University. The women's game begins at 6 p.m. followed by the men's game at approximately 8 p.m.

The celebration is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Services.  Co-sponsors include Entertainment Unlimited and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.