In light of the social issues facing the nation and the black community, the theme #WhoWillBeNext is fitting, say organizers of the 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium opening this month at the University of Michigan.
Gloria Taylor, director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, points to the historic photo of King chosen to promote this year’s symposium. Two policemen are arresting the civil rights leader, leading a public protest.
“This image was purposely chosen to challenge viewers not only to see Dr. King as a victim but as part of the solution,” Taylor says. “We are all victims of social ills if we are not involved in their prevention and solutions through our personal investment.”
One may see King as a victim. But there is more.
The annual series of lectures, performances and other activities at U-M to honor King is initiated by students and guided by OAMI and the MLK Symposium Planning Committee.
Nontombi Naomi Tutu, an activist for race and gender justice and human rights, and daughter of South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, will present the MLK Symposium Keynote Memorial Lecture at 10 a.m. Jan. 18 at Hill Auditorium.
“It is the hope that this year’s theme will lead us to examine the life of Dr. King for social justice and feel an urgency to use our individual and collective resources so that the question will not be #WhoWillBeNext but #WeAreAllNext,” Taylor said.
For the first time, OAMI will livestream the keynote memorial lecture via the U-M MLK Symposium website.
“We are inviting students, faculty, staff and alumni who cannot make it to Hill Auditorium to host watch parties and similar events,” says Lumas Helaire, OAMI interim associate director.
OAMI also is presenting an online toolkit to facilitate dialogue at watch parties and spark action. It includes a timeline with key dates, tips for hosting and facilitating an event, and suggestions for sharing highlights.
There are roughly 50 events involving a range of campus sponsors. They include:
• MLibrary MLK Day Program, 6 p.m. Jan. 13, Lydia Mendelsshohn Theater, Michigan League, with Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The movement has worked to make more visible the challenge to police brutality and viable solutions. Outraged by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Garza took to social media to express her anguish and love for the black community. Ending her message with Our Lives Matter/We Matter/Black Lives Matter, Garza helped turn the words into a Twitter hashtag, prompting activism nationwide.
• Looking Back to Press Forward, 3-5 p.m. Jan. 15, Room 3009, Student Activities Building, 515 E Jefferson St. Student-centered activism has led to the creation of various departments on campus that support the multidimensional and multicultural needs of students at U-M. #WhoWillBeNext to continue this legacy of advocacy, as it relates to ensuring the success of all students at the University of Michigan? The session will be facilitated by Mariama Nagbe, director of the OAMI Leaders and Best Program.
• The William K. McNally Memorial Lecture, “Dream Makers And Why They Matter,” 5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Robertson Auditorium, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, with Wil Haygood, Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee. Haygood is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Butler: A Witness to History.” He also is associate producer of a film adaptation of the work. Haygood has dedicated his life to sharing stories of courage and fortitude amid battles for justice and equality. His presentation will celebrate King, Nelson Mandela and White House butler Eugene Allen.
• A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., 7-9:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Michigan Union Rogel Ballroom. The event will present artistic expressions from poets, singers and musicians incorporating their interpretation of King’s vision into their performance. It also will feature the Martin Luther King Mobile Museum with more than 2,500 documents highlighting King’s life. The museum also integrates technology to provide a virtual experience.
• Food Justice Panel: Exploring Racial Inequities in the Food System, 7-8:30 p.m. Jan. 26, Room 1040, Dana Natural Resources Building, 440 Church St. A diverse coalition of student groups and faculty projects on campus present a panel discussion on racial inequities in our food system. Discussion will focus on the present challenges causing food insecurity, and innovative solutions by communities to overcome them. Speakers include Shane Bernardo of Earthworks Urban Farm and graduate students working with the Food Access In Michigan project. The panel is presented by the U-M Sustainable Food Program, Food Access In Michigan and Eco Forum.
• Jan. 18: 23rd Annual MLK Day of Service. Register at tinyurl.com/zh84k6s. Check in from 7:45-8:30 a.m. at Kochoff Hall, University Center.
• Jan. 19: “Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights” film, noon, Kochoff Hall A, University Center. Conversation on Race, 3 p.m., Kochoff Hall C, University Center.
• Jan. 20: What is Your Dream? All day, chalk wall, McKinley Cafe; Soup and Conversation: Has His Dream Been Achieved? noon, Kochoff Hall C, University Center.
• Jan. 21: Guest speaker and Faculty Enrichment, noon, location to be determined. “The Meeting” play and discussion, 5 p.m., Kochoff Hall, University Center.
• Jan. 22: Second Annual Engagement Day, 8:30 a.m., Kochoff Hall, University Center; “The Meeting” play and discussion, 7 p.m., Kochoff Hall, University Center.
• Keynote Commemorative Lecture with Nontombi Naomi Tutu, 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Kiva, University Center.
• MLK Day Opening Remarks and Volunteer Breakfast with James Chaffers, emeritus professor of architecture, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, 7:30-9 a.m. Jan. 18 in the Michigan Rooms, Mott University Center.
• MLK Commemoration volunteer service opportunities are presented starting at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 18. Volunteers can register at tinyurl.com/olo76yz. Service opportunities are available at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint, Carriage Town Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, Joy Tabernacle, King Karate, My Brother’s Keeper, South End Soup Kitchen and Whaley Children’s Center.