The Lehigh community will celebrate the 83rd anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader assassinated in 1968, with a week of events organized around the theme of (In)visible Violence: Awareness into Action.
The events run from Jan. 16-20 and include an interfaith breakfast, a convocation honoring people working for social justice, and an address by Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X.
The theme was chosen as a tribute to King’s dedication to inclusivity, organizers say.
“Awareness into action means being proactive against the different types of violence that exist—physical, emotional or psychological—and taking action,” said Tyrone Russell, director of the office of multicultural affairs.
“We are typically aware of social and emotional violence but only grow concerned when it evolves into a more overt, physical form,” said Russell, who co-chaired the planning committee with Ayanna Wilcher, assistant director for diversity and career development.
“We want the Lehigh community not only to be aware of the early stages of violence but to take action before it evolves. We feel that shining the spotlight on Dr. King’s work in this area is a fitting tribute to his legacy.”
Standing against injustice everywhere
“Many times we focus on the violence we can see, which receives more publicity, and we do little to address areas of violence that affect gender and sexual orientation,” said Wilcher.
“King didn’t just stand up for a specific race or a single cause—he stood up against injustice everywhere.”
Shabazz, an author, producer and motivational speaker, wrote the critically acclaimed 2002 memoir, Growing Up X. Her children’s book, Young Malcolm, will be released this spring. She will sign copies of Growing Up X at the Lehigh bookstore from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19.
Shabazz was chosen for her insights into her father, an African-American leader who was assassinated in 1965 and who, toward the end of his life, worked closely with King, event organizers say.
New events this year are a student-organized MLKarnival from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Lamberton Hall; a Day of Education led by faculty beginning at noon Wednesday, Jan. 18, in Iacocca Tower; and a bus trip to the new MLK Monument in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 20.
At the Day of Education, faculty will share their research and experiences that relate to social justice and King. The bus trip, which begins at 6 a.m., will offer programs highlighting the changes brought about by King and his successors. Students will reflect on their freedoms and on ways of improving the campus community.
During the week, signs and images will be posted across campus to emphasize the concept of non-violent solutions to problems. Passages from religious and scholarly works will be included.
A calendar of events
A calendar of events is available on the office of multicultural affairs website. Other highlights include:
• An oratory contest for Lehigh Valley high school students at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Bethlehem City Hall. Students will give short speeches on community violence. Lehigh faculty and staff will judge. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four contestants.
• An opening ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Jan. 16, in Baker Hall: Students, faculty and staff will reflect on what King’s legacy means to them.
• An interfaith breakfast at 8 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Asa Packer Dining Room will give faculty, staff and students the opportunity to reflect on the spiritual realm of social justice.
• The annual MLK convocation at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19, in Packard Auditorium. In addition to Shabazz’s keynote address, the ceremony will recognize the work of Lehigh community members toward social justice.
The MLK planning committee also includes staff members Veronica Hunter, Silagh White, Rita Jones, Christa Wessels, Courtney Jones, Seth Goren, Karen Sims, Brandon Morris Chelsea Blais, and Ginger DeBias; faculty members Gordon Moskowitz, Lloyd Steffen, and James Peterson; and students Shalena Heard, Marcella Dillard, Alison Morrow and Chris Holguin.