During the week of January 16-22, many events were held on campus to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. King, a late minister and activist, spent his life speaking out on the issue of civil rights and the inequalities faced by people of color.
King was assassinated on Apr. 4, 1968. Despite his untimely death, people around the world continue to look upon his work, speeches and legacy in order to create a more just society.
Former President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday, which was first celebrated in 1986. Recognized on the third Monday of January, Alma College utilizes the day and following week to educate, inform and celebrate King.
Some events of the past week included Silent March, an event co-hosted by Alma’s Diversity & Inclusion Office and the Multicultural Student Union, and an MLK Week Unity Celebration that consists of dinner, live entertainment from the DJAM Jazz Band and performances from the Alma Choir and Chorale.
Dr. Donnesha Blake, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, emphasized that these kinds of events benefit our campus community greatly. “One of the college’s goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion is to create a safe, just and inclusive community. I think MLK week allows us to pause and reflect on how we might do that in meaningful ways. It’s also a time to acknowledge the work we have been doing to move toward justice.”
Blake also stated that, despite the events taking place in the pandemic, attendance has not faltered. She says, “Given the context of COVID, our virtual events had higher attendance than our in-person events.”
Blake continued, “Candice Marie Benbow’s keynote was really well received. We’ve gotten direct feedback from our campus community that her words were powerful, inspiring, and accessible.”
Dr. Blake expresses that students can support the Diversity & Inclusion Office by visiting their space in Tyler Van Dusen 145. Students can attend educational workshops and cultural programs and follow the office’s social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.
Blake also states that the planning for Black History Month and Women’s History Month is underway, and that students should stay tuned for more information on the campus calendar and social media.