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Ohio State honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with day of service, events

Virtual celebration of civil rights leader continues through January

The Ohio State University will host and participate in a series of virtual events this month to celebrate the life and activism of Martin Luther King Jr.

The university is closed and no classes will be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18. President Kristina M. Johnson encouraged the university community to participate in local events to support King’s legacy. 

“I invite you to join fellow Buckeyes in honoring Dr. King’s legacy by participating in events and activities during a week-long program that will celebrate his legacy while incorporating the importance of activism in our society today,” she wrote this week in her university-wide message. “Dr. King’s example in contributing to the betterment of our democracy and our world is more important now than ever.”

This year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day of service will be a virtual experience due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Continuing the Legacy” is a week-long collaborative program hosted by The Office of Student Life Pay It Forward campaign, the Hale Black Cultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Social Change and others. Events include:

  • Continuing The Legacy: MLK Week Opening Ceremony, 6 p.m. Jan. 18. Special performances will honor King’s legacy. Speakers include Senior Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers and Hale Black Cultural Center Director Lawrence Williamson. Register Here 
  • 40 Acres and a Mule: Wealth, Legacy and Social Change, 7 p.m. Jan. 19. This session will explore the “legacy” of wealth in America and its economic and racial implications. Hosts will discuss the importance of generational wealth as it relates to social justice and social change. Register Here
  • The Letter from Birmingham Jail: Applications to Modern Day Advocacy and Activism, hosted in partnership with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20. Hasan Jeffries, associate professor of history and Kirwan Institute faculty affiliate, will revisit and analyze King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail. Originally published in June 1963, King’s words continue to be relevant amidst growing racial tensions in modern-day America. The Letter from Birmingham Jail can be accessed here: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/letter-birmingham-jail. Register Here
  • Fifty Years of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at The Ohio State University: A Discussion with ODI Leaders, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21. Panelists include James Moore III, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer; Lawrence Williamson, director of the Hale Black Cultural Center; and Kimberly McCalla, ODI director for external engagement, alumni affairs and special events. Register Here
  • The week of Jan. 18, The Office of Student Life Social Change Department will construct “grow kits.” These kits are a component of the “Cultivating Social Change” project that equips high-need families with portable garden kits containing soil, seeds, multicultural books and activity sheets. The goal is to complete 100 kits and prepare them for distribution. To volunteer, visit socialchange.osu.edu. COVID-19 protocols apply and volunteers will work in small groups.

Additional events include the 2021 Peace and Freedom Committee Celebration in collaboration with The Ohio State University at Marion, a virtual celebration at 10 a.m. Jan 18. This event is free and open to the public. The celebration will feature guest speakers, performances from the Marion Public School Choir and a presentation of speeches on King’s legacy by area youth. Register Here

Students at the Mansfield Campus are encouraged to submit a poem, spoken word, song or other form of art that answers whether or not social justice can be achieved. Prizes are available for the top three submissions. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 18.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will host the 49th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 7 p.m. Jan. 26. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, to whom the families of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Martin Lee Anderson, Breonna Taylor and Columbus resident Andre Hill all turned to shine a spotlight of justice on their cases, is the featured speaker for the virtual event.

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