Tag: MLK

‘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


Pulitzer Prize-winner headlines annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration; Lawrence professor to receive community award

Award-winning newspaper columnist and author Leonard Pitts believes the concept of “now” is as urgent as it has been in many years.

A photo of award-winning newspaper columnist and author Leonard Pitts.
Leonard Pitts

Pitts, who writes a nationally syndicated column for the Miami Herald, will deliver the keynote address Monday, Jan. 16 at the 26th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Two community awards will be presented as part of the celebration, including an educator award that will go to Lawrence University faculty member Amy Ongiri.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Refusing to be a Bystander to Racism and Injustice.” The event, which will include a sign language interpreter, is free and open to the public. A reception will immediately follow in Shattuck Hall 163.

The annual commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy is jointly presented by Lawrence University and Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, with the support of numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals.

Inspired by a passage in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he warned against “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” Pitts presents “On the Fierce Urgency of Now.”

King urged people not to be patient or wait for change to happen. Pitts believes that message needs to be reinforced because too many have “forgotten the fierce urgency of now, neglected to keep the pedal to the metal where human rights are concerned,” eroding much of the progress made in the post-civil rights era. In light of events of the past year, particularly the outcome of the national election, Pitts will make the case for the urgency of “now.”

During his 40-year career, Pitts has been recognized numerous times for literary excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. His popular twice-a-week column appears in dozens of newspapers around the country. The National Association of Black Journalists have honored Pitts with its annual Award of Excellence three times and named him its Journalist of the Year in 2008.

He is a seven-time recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award and has been the recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club’s National Headliners Award five times.

In addition to his column, Pitts has written five critically acclaimed books, including 2015’s “Grant Park,” a provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America.

Pitts, who resides in Bowie, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Southern California at the age of 19 after starting college as a 15-year old on a special honors program.

With a celebration theme focused on refusing to be a bystander to racism and injustice, Kathy Flores, chair of the MLK Planning Committee, says Pitts is the perfect keynote speaker.

“I can’t wait to hear Leonard Pitts’ address because so much of his writing has examined this very topic,” said Flores. “He is a shining example of someone in the media who stands up against racism and injustice in every word he writes. His passion and authenticity for justice makes him a powerful writer and speaker.”

A Head shot of Lawrence University Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies Amy Ongiri.
Amy Ongiri

As part of the community celebration, Ongiri will receive the third MLK Educator Award and Sarah Long-Radloff will be recognized as the 23rd recipient of the Jane LaChapelle McCarty Community Leader Award.

Ongiri joined the Lawrence faculty in 2014 as the Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies. She since has established herself as a fighter for social justice and a passionate advocate for all marginalized people.

With scholarship focused on diversity and multiculturalism, Ongiri has developed classes in which students engage intensely with issues of race, class, ability, ethnicity, body size, gender, sexuality and other categories of social hierarchy while challenging students to examine their unconscious biases.

As a role model of social justice activism, Ongiri serves as a faculty mentor for several Lawrence diversity and social justice student organizations, among them Alianza and the Men of Color Alliance. Her impact on students has been described as “profound.”

Her engagement extends beyond the campus, leading presentations on issues of diversity for local companies. As a strong believer that queer women of color be visible, she volunteers frequently as a DJ at local events, including the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration, and coaches basketball on Saturday mornings at the YMCA.

A Head shot of Fox Cities resident Sarah Long-Radloff.
Sarah Long-Radloff

Long-Radloff, a Fox Cities resident for more than 40 years, has been engaged in community outreach since she arrived, acting on her mission of providing a majority-white community with a positive African American experience.

She is active in the Appleton Kiwanis Club, earning the organization’s George F. Hixson Fellowship Award in 2016.  Serving some of the community’s most vulnerable or at-risk citizens, she volunteers at Harbor House, the Emergency Shelter/Homeless Connections and at the state prison in Waupun.

During a career at Kimberly-Clark Corp., Long-Radloff was involved with several diversity initiatives and helped train upper management, both locally and nationally, in support of the company’s efforts to create a more diverse work force.

The celebration also will feature student winners of the annual MLK essay contest, who will read their entries. This year’s winning student essayists are:

Caroline Basehoar, 3rd grade, St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, Appleton
Eli Skrypczak, 4th grade, Foster Elementary School, Appleton
• Kala Lones, 9th grade, Appleton North High School
• Milly Figueroa, 11th grade, Appleton North High School

The celebration will include a spoken word performance by members of Lawrence’s Slam Poetry Club and music by Anthony Gonzalez, B-Lilly, Mauranda Owens, Mike Pope and Paris Wicker.

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 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.

Lawrence hosts 25th annual community celebration of MLK’s life, legacy

Although Lawrence University classes won’t be held Jan. 18 on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more than 300 students will make it “a day on, not a day off” by engaging in 18 community service projects.

Lawrence students have embraced the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day of community engagement and service.

Lawrentians will spend part of their day volunteering their time and talents on activities ranging from painting a rock climbing wall at Appleton’s Edison Elementary School to leading interactive projects that incorporate themes of equality, advocacy and the civil rights movement at the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley.

Highlighting the day will be the community celebration of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The annual commemoration of King’s life and legacy is jointly presented by Lawrence University and the community organization Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, with the support of The Post-Crescent, numerous Fox Valley organizations, churches and individuals.

Stansbury Theatre in the adjacent Music-Drama Center will be equipped with a video screen to accommodate overflow crowd should the Chapel reach capacity. The event is free and open to the public and a sign language interpreter will be present.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Breaking the Chains of Injustice.” Social justice icon, scholar and author Dr. Angela Davis will deliver the event’s keynote address.

Dr. Angela Davis

As a student, writer, scholar and activist/organizer, Davis has devoted much of her life to social justice movements domestically and internationally. Most recently, the Birmingham, Ala., native has focused largely on social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

“I am looking forward to hearing Dr. Davis’ call to action for our community at the annual celebration,” said Kathy Flores, the diversity coordinator for the City of Appleton and chairperson of the MLK planning committee. “Many people forget what a radical Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered in his time on this earth. I am confident that Dr. Davis will inspire and challenge us to remember and embrace the true legacy of Dr. King.”

In 1970, Davis was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She spent 18 months in jail and on trial before being acquitted by a jury. Davis has drawn on those experiences as an author of 10 books, including 2005’s “Abolition Democracy” and 2003’s “Are Prisons Obsolete?” in which she argues for “decarceration.”

Her just released book, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement,” is a collection of essays, speeches and interviews highlighting the relationships among historical and contemporary state violence and oppression in the world. It will be used as the next installment in the Fox Cities’ Books Build Community series.

Davis, who studied at Brandeis University and the Sobornne in Paris, has spent the past 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and of Feminist Studies.

Her career as an educator and scholar has seen Davis teach at San Francisco State University, Mills College, University of California Berkeley, Vassar College and Stanford University, among others.

“I am confident that Dr. Davis will inspire and challenge us to remember and embrace the true legacy of Dr. King.”
— Kathy Flores, Appleton diversity coordinator

The community celebration also will recognize Tony Awofeso with the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Community Leader Award and Ben Vogel with the MLK Educator Award.

A former Outagamie County Board Supervisor, Awofeso is the current president of B.A.B.E.S., Inc., a child abuse prevention program, and former chair of the organization Towards Community: Unity In Diversity (the precursor to Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities). He co-founded African Heritage, Inc. and has served on the boards of the North East Wisconsin Fair Housing Council and CAP Services.

Vogel is the assistant superintendent of school/student services for the Appleton Area School District. He has been an advocate on social injustice issues pervading the school and community cultures with a focus on closing the opportunity gap between African American K-12 and white K-12 students.

Four local students winners of the annual MLK essay contest — Eliana Brenn, Sydni Wanty, Ndemazea Fonkem and Michayla Kading — will read their winning entries as part of the celebration.

The celebration will include music by Anthony Gonzalez, Lawrence student B-Lilly, members of the Lawrence Black Student Union and a spoken word performance by members of Lawrence’s Slam Poetry Club.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.