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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 14, 2021

Next week we will honor the life, legacy, and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most notable for his speeches that spoke truth to power, this day was not quickly deemed as a holiday as we see it today. Shortly after his assassination in 1968, the campaign to federally recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. began; however, it was not until 1983 that the holiday was signed into law. Finally, in 2000, all 50 states formally acknowledged and observed the holiday.

Over the past 20 years, I have enjoyed our University and City MLK Celebration and Program that amplified our talented students and community members with theatrical presentations, readings, songs, and dance. However, this year, my observance and reflection will be different. The change from the normal is not only due to the pandemic but rather due to the Capitol uprising fraught with white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the double standards used to regulate the rioters have been witnessed by black and brown folks throughout our nation. As a consequence, feelings of anxiety, grief, uncertainty, and anger are front and center as we also continue to be students, parents, teachers, grandparents, tios and tias, and just humans. Dr. Fischer, UNC History Professor, sums up this sentiment in an article written by Katie Corder titled "UNC Expert: The Capitol Riot and its Lasting Impacts": "There's a series of divisions and wounds that were potentially opened larger and are going to be more difficult to heal."

Reading many of MLK's speeches and his ideals on non-violence, I have developed a broader viewpoint on the Civil Rights movement. Many of our friends, colleagues, and family members would agree that a lot has changed since then. Perhaps this is true for some, but for many, the retort might be: for whom have things changed? I asked UNC student Grant Stephens, a senior Human Services major and UNC football player, to share his reflections as a Black Man in America. He provided an essay titled "Why America May Go to Hell: The Truth and Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Finally, please take part in what students and staff of UNC in collaboration with Aims Community College, High Plains Library District, City of Greeley, and District 6 have planned for you. Your family, friends, and neighbors are all welcome.

At the Table with Dr. King
Thursday, January 14
3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Virtual March and Main Event
Monday, January 18
9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Register here, and an access link to Zoom will follow

Additional resources to commemorate MLK and the Civil Rights Movement:

  1. An 'Exhausted' Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final 31 Hours
  2. MLK Address: "The Other America"
  3. Collection of MLK Speeches via Spotify
  4. Celebrating Songs of protest and freedom from the Civil Rights era via Spotify
  5. Interview with a member of the Little Rock Nine, Ms. Carlotta Walls LaNier "A Dress and a Dream
  6. Please copy and paste the MLK design element below and place it in your signature line

For more information, please visit The King Center. Additionally, please find a compilation of resources located under DDEI Education and Resources on the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion site and UNC Libraries under DEI & Antiracism Resources.