Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tag: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

‘Do your work’: Lawrence students, faculty, staff reach out on MLK Day

Lawrence University students, faculty and staff were out and about in big numbers Monday as they responded to the call to service in honor of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They took part in multiple volunteer efforts at area Boys and Girls Clubs, Feeding America, Brewster Village and Riverview Gardens, participated in an OxFam Hunger Banquet to get a deeper understanding of issues that keep families trapped in poverty and took part in faculty teach-in sessions on topics ranging from systematic racism to youth mental health.

That was a lead-up to Monday evening’s celebration at Memorial Chapel, a chance to embrace Dr. King’s legacy and reaffirm a commitment to carry his message forward.

Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. speaks at podium.
Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. speaks during Monday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Memorial Chapel.

Keynote speaker Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. implored the nearly full house at the chapel to be active and vocal in pushing King’s messages of inclusion and equality.

“The people who really have me concerned are good people with good hearts who say nothing,” Moore said. “The best friend that hate has is silence.”

A Lawrence tradition

The day of service on MLK Day has been a tradition at Lawrence since 2003.

“It’s a day on, not a day off, for service,” said Kristi Hill, director of Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change.

Nearly 300 students, faculty and staff took part in the various service projects.

“Lawrence has made a commitment to build students who are change makers,” Hill said, calling Monday’s activities an opportunity for students and faculty to “learn, serve and celebrate” in Dr. King’s name.

The OxFam Hunger Banquet, held at the Warch Campus Center, featured a simulation to highlight issues and laws that keep people cut off from needed resources, stifling opportunities to escape the brutal cycle of poverty. The session looked to raise awareness of poverty and hunger issues here and around the world and inspire those participating to become active in fighting inequalities in access to resources.

Organized by the LU Food Recovery Network, it was a first-time event and drew upwards of 90 participants.

“It’s an opportunity to learn about equity in our communities,” Hill said.

Getting into the community

The service excursions around the Fox Cities gave participants a chance to engage with youth, interact with community elders and do work that assists area food pantries.

The Brewster Village program, created by Vicky Liang ’19 as part of the Building Intergenerational Relationships partnership between Lawrence and the Outagamie County rehabilitation and long-term nursing facility, had Lawrence students working with elders to create six-word memoirs to reflect their lives.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the loneliness,” Liang said as Brewster Village residents paired up with Lawrence students around tables in the community room, engaging in conversations that tapped into memories and brought reflections of lives lived.

“With the MLK message, we usually think of the ‘I Have a Dream,'” Liang said. “But he fought for justice and equal resources for everyone.”

Lawrence volunteer talks with students at Boys and Girls Club.
Lawrence University student Beatrice Gee interacts Monday with kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Menasha.

At the Boys and Girls Clubs in Appleton and Menasha, a program organized by Sam Taylor ’19 had about 50 Lawrence volunteers talking with about 300 K-6 students about the work and legacy of MLK.

At the Menasha club, students in one room gathered in circles to talk through “Wings,” a book by Christopher Myers that tells the story of a boy born with wings who is shunned and mocked by his peers because he’s different and a young girl who finally gathers the confidence to speak up on his behalf.

Sophie Dion-Kirschner ’20, one of the Lawrence volunteers, said she believes the messages being delivered and the connections being made are a benefit to both the youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club and the Lawrentians who stepped up to volunteer.

“They all get something out of it that they weren’t expecting,” she said.

Teach-ins close to home

Five professors, meanwhile, hosted teach-ins in various residence halls, informal gatherings to talk about issues of education, diversity and inclusion. Students were able to come and go, joining in the conversation as they saw fit.

Professor Lori Hilt talks with students at Hiett Hall.
Professor Lori Hilt conducts a teach-in Monday at Hiett Hall.

Professor Stephanie Burdick-Shepherd talked about systematic inequalities in education; Professor Mark Jenike talked on hunger in a wealthy nation; Professor Lori Hilt on improving youth mental health; Professor Jason Brozek on the global climate justice movement; and Professor Jesus Gregorio Smith on systematic racism.

The teach-ins, a first-time offering on MLK Day, resonated with the students, Dion-Kirschner said. “The professors are showing people, I teach you this material, but here is what I can do with it. Here are the things that you can do to make this world a better place.”

A Dr. King celebration

That all led to Monday night’s community celebration at the chapel, a partnership between Lawrence, African Heritage Inc. and various community organizations, to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Moore, a noted activist who has forged a career as a speaker and consultant on issues of race and equality, was the keynote speaker for the 28th annual event, addressing the theme, “Why Keep Dreaming? A Time for Action.”

Turning that dream into action takes work, Moore said.

“When you’re committed, everybody has work to do,” he said. “It’s not just black friends or listening to Tina Turner or doing one thing with one person. It’s work.”

That’s true, he said, no matter how committed you are or how deeply you believe in all that King preached.

“I can’t just get there because I say I’m a good person,” Moore said. “Do your work.”

Speaking of doing the work, the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty MLK Community Leader Award was presented to Norys Pina, who has been a leading advocate in the Fox Cities on immigration issues and a vocal resource in the areas of access and equality. She’s a lead organizer of Unidos por un Futuro Mejor – Fox Cities and works as a volunteer coordinator for the Fox Valley Literacy Council. She is the 25th recipient of the honor, first awarded in 1995.

Winners of the annual youth essay contest read their essays during the MLK celebration. They included Feyikemi Delano-Oriaran, a second-grader at Classical School in Appleton, Lilyanna Pieper, a sixth-grader at Huntley Elementary School in Appleton, and Catlin Yang, a senior at Kimberly High School.

More photos: See photos from Monday’s MLK Day events here.

Video: Lawrence students volunteer in the community on MLK Day


Fulfilling the Dream of Opportunity: Annual Community Celebration Honors Life, Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Author and educator Gloria Ladson-Billings will draw parallels between the current youth activism that has emerged across the country and the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. to confront injustice Monday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as part of the 24th annual community celebration of the American civil rights leader. The event is free and open to the public. A sign language interpreter will be present and a reception follows the program.

UW-Madison professor Gloria Ladson-Billings will deliver the keynote address at the 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

As this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration keynote speaker, Ladson-Billings, the Kellner Family Chair of Urban Education at UW-Madison, presents “More than a Dreamer: Restoring the Radical Tradition of Martin Luther King Jr.”

The event’s program includes music by Lawrence senior Brienne Colston and the Kimberly High School Choir. Four area students will read their winning submissions from the annual Martin Luther King essay contest. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Fulfilling the Dream of Opportunity.”

The annual commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy is jointly presented by Lawrence and the organization Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities (formerly known as Toward Community: Unity in Diversity), with the support of The Post-Crescent, numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals.

Ladson-Billings says society too often sanitizes and romanticizes its heroes.

“In the case of Martin Luther King Jr., we have fallen in love with the notion of him as a dreamer,” she said. “But King was a man of action and recognized the need to confront injustice not merely dream about its eradication someday.”

A scholar on the pedagogical practices of teachers who work successfully with African American students, Ladson-Billings also conducts research on Critical Race Theory applications to education. She is the author of the books “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children” and “Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms.”

A long-standing member of the NAACP and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Ladson-Billlings’ work as an educator has been recognized with numerous awards, including election to the National Academy of Education, the American Anthropological Association’s George and Louise Spindler Award for ongoing contributions in educational anthropology and an honorary degree from Sweden’s Umeå University.

“Reflecting on this year’s theme, fulfilling the dream of opportunity, I can’t help but wonder if this dream will ever be fulfilled,” said Pa Lee Moua, Lawrence’s assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs. “Unfortunately even today, opportunities are not equal for everyone. Individually, and as a society, we all play a part. In the words of Dr. King, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ Change will only happen if we step up, speak up and move forward together. There is no ‘Us’ and ‘Them.’ We complete our communities.”

…King was a man of action and recognized the need to confront
injustice not merely dream about its eradication someday.”
— Gloria Ladson-Billings

“During these trying times, we must remember the dream of Dr. King is far from complete,” said Kathy Flores, chair of the MLK Planning Committee and diversity coordinator for the city of Appleton. “We must continue to remember his legacy by not only honoring him, but continuing the work amidst the struggle for many. As we sing ‘Lift Every Voice,’ the Black National Anthem at this year’s celebration, I hope everyone is moved by the words ‘Let us march on till victory is won.’”

The celebration will recognize three community members.

Nicholas Hoffman, chief curator at the History Museum at the Castle, will receive the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty-MLK Community Leader Award, which honors an individual who has brought different people in the community together in the spirit of Dr. King. Hoffmann has curated exhibitions on those forgotten in history, including immigrants in “Food: Who We Are, What We Eat,” minorities in “Progressive Appleton” and most recently the history of local African Americans in “Stone of Hope: Black Experiences in the Fox Cities.”

Part of the “Stone of Hope” exhibition will be on display in Shattuck Hall 163 following the program.

•  Amy Xiong, English Language Learner teacher at Kaukauna High School and co-advisor of the KHS Diversity Club, will be the first recipient of the newly established Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Educator Award, which honors individuals who educate people in the spirit of Dr. King. Xiong was chosen for her dedication in going above and beyond her assigned duties to ensure all students are given equal, and a wide range of diverse, educational opportunities.

Rev. Roger Bertschausen, senior minister at Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and founder of the annual MLK Celebration, will be recognized for his 25 years of service with a special legacy award. Bertschausen is relocating to St. Louis later this year.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Martin Luther King’s Enduring Spirit Theme of Community Celebration of Civil Rights Leader Hosted by Lawrence University

Ysaye Barnwell, author, actress, composer and long-time member of the internationally renowned African-American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, delivers the keynote address at the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Monday, Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

The celebration, presented by Lawrence University and Toward Community: Unity in Diversity with the support of numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals, is free and open to the public. The Post-Crescent and WFRV-TV CBS 5 are media partners for the event.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Building a Vocal Community: The Enduring Spirit of Dr. King.”

“In 1967, Dr. King reminded us that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’ That message is just as relevant today as it was then,” said Kathy Flores, the chair of the MLK Committee and the diversity coordinator for the city of Appleton. “While many years have passed since Dr. King was assassinated, it is still so important that we remember his work, which was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also helped pave the way for the difficult conversations we continue to have today about race, economics, politics, religion, abilities, gender and sexual orientation.

“The Fox Cities certainly has changed considerably in the last 20 years,” Flores added, “but our visionary leaders who founded this celebration could see that our beautiful diversity would continue to grow and become something we embrace in the spirit of Dr. King.”

Pa Lee Moua, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs at Lawrence, said it is up to today’s citizens to create the kind of society King envisioned.

“A strong community replicates strong citizens, people who support, embrace and educate others on the importance of diversity, social justice and civic engagement,” said Moua. “As Dr. King said, ‘Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ He took the first step, now it is up to all of us to continue the journey. It is only then that we will be able to create a community that portrays equal opportunity, respect and justice for all.”

Ysaye Barnwell

Barnwell joined Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1979 and has appeared as a vocalist and/or instrumentalist on more than 30 recordings with the ensemble and other artists.

During the past 25 years, Barnwell has established herself as a composer/arranger and master teacher in African-American cultural performance. She developed the workshop “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African-American Tradition” that utilizes African-American history, values, cultural and vocal traditions to build community among singers and non-singers alike. The workshop has been conducted around the world and her pedagogy serves as a model for educators, cultural activists and historians.

A native New Yorker who has lived in Washington, D.C., the past 40 years, Barnwell has written two children’s books and composed numerous commissioned works for choral, film, video, dance and theatrical projects, including “Truth Pressed to Earth Shall Rise,” a choral work in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. that premiered in 2003 by the Choral Arts Society of Washington, D.C.

Her acting credits include voice-over narration for film, video and radio productions, including the NPR documentary “W.C. Handy’s Blues” and appearances in the 1998 Jonathan Demme film “Beloved.”

Barnwell earned a Ph.D. in speech pathology from the University of Pittsburgh and taught for more than 10 years at Howard University. She later administered health programs at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center and at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Highlighting the celebration will be the presentation of Toward Community’s annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Unity in Diversity Award, which honors an area individual who has made great strides in bringing different people in the community together.

The celebration also features readings by area student winners of the annual Martin Luther King essay contest and musical performances led by Barnwell, Lawrence junior Michael Pope, as well as other Lawrence students.

A sign language interpreter will be present for the program and a reception for all in attendance will be held following the event.