Tag: Dr. Martin Luther King Day

“What are we going to do about it?”: An MLK Day call to fight structural injustices

Dr. Bettina L. Love

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Embrace a radical imagination.

Take the fight against structural racism beyond well-meaning committees and studies.

Don’t just speak out against crowded prisons and low-performing schools; commit to the work to end the conditions that result in crowded prisons and low-performing schools.

That is the hard message behind Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, said Dr. Bettina L. Love, the keynote speaker Monday at the 30th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, co-hosted by African Heritage Inc. and the Lawrence University Diversity and Intercultural Center.

“What structural changes are you willing to make?” said Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and an endowed professor at the University of Georgia. “You got all the reports, you got all the directors of initiatives and all this, and you know racism is in the system, and you know racism is stopping children from living and seeing their full potential, so what structural change are we going to make? Are we just going to keep having policies? Are we going to keep reporting out that the very places we work are racist? What are we going to do about it?”

The MLK Day Celebration is typically held in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel, but the community event moved online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Brittany Bell, assistant dean of students and director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence and co-chair of the Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, helped take the event virtual.

“This is a time for us to come together in unity,” Bell said. “Let us remember Dr. King’s legacy. Together we can be the light that illuminates the darkness in our world and our communities and make a difference.”

At Lawrence, with no classes being held, the event followed a series of MLK Day virtual conversations, including a book talk focused on Heavy: An American Memoir, the powerful and emotional 2018 book by Kiese Laymon, discussions on anti-racist strategies and disability advocacy, and a Music for All concert. The sessions were organized and led by campus volunteers through the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change.

The evening event took the King remembrances beyond campus, with community-focused messages of fighting the very injustices that King gave his life for while also embracing and celebrating Black joy.

The pandemic, Love said, has only exacerbated and magnified the deeply ingrained racism in this country. As did the killing of George Floyd. As did the marches of white supremacists.

“To be a person of color in this country today is a state of exhaustion,” Love said. “To always be trying to figure out ways we can survive this place. I know the Creator did not put me here to survive, to merely survive. I was put here to thrive. So that’s why I wrote the book. We want to do more than survive. That is not living. Living in a world where you are constantly in survival mode is what’s killing us more than anything — white supremacy that puts us in a place where we are constantly just trying to make it, spiritually, physically, mentally, economically. We deserve more.”

Love reminded the audience that at the time of his death in 1968, King was focused on the ills of poverty. He was fighting for workers’ rights, living wages, affordable housing, and economic opportunities for all. He was waging a battle on behalf of the poor that has yet to come to fruition.

“Before Dr. King died, he was building one of the world’s most robust coalitions of poor folks, black folks, white folks, Asian folks, Latino folks, you name it, he was building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition … to think very deeply about how we make sure people living in the United States had a guaranteed income, a living wage, housing,” Love said. “That was what he was on at the end of his life.”

Continuing that fight is what being an Abolitionist is all about, said Love, who titled her talk, Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality, & Black Joy.

“More than anything, King understood this,” she said. “The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical distribution of political and economic power. That was his dream. We cannot sanitize it; we cannot water down King’s dream. His dream was to abolish poverty. His dream was to unite black folks and white folks and Latinx folks and indigenous folks, and everybody to create a world that understood if you want racial justice you better want economic justice. And we’re talking about a redistribution of wealth.

“King was about the abolishment of poverty. He was not trying to just give people a dollar here, a dollar there. He was trying to create structure that would ensure that nobody went hungry ever again. That is what abolition is about. It’s not about reform or reimagining. It’s about uprooting oppression.”

Love encouraged all to join that fight, to take it beyond good thoughts and supportive words.

“We do this work not wanting allies but wanting co-conspirators,” she said. “What have you done? What’s your work? That’s what a co-conspirator does. Put something on the line.”

To get there is a journey. Embrace that journey. Have a “radical imagination” and celebrate who you are, Love said.

“We have to do this work with joy,” she said. “We have to want to see Black folks win. It has to be more than just anger. There’s righteous rage, don’t get me wrong. But we also have to find the Black joy in this world. The work that says I want to be well, I want to work to be well.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

30th annual MLK Celebration to go virtual; series of conversations planned

Bettina L. Love (left) and Griot B.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 30th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, co-hosted by African Heritage Inc. and the Lawrence University Diversity and Intercultural Center, will be held virtually on Jan. 18.

Typically held in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel on the evening of MLK Day, the community event is moving online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those who would like to attend the virtual event will need to register in advance here. It’s set for 6 to 7:45 p.m.

“This upcoming MLK Day, it will be 30 years the Fox Cities has come together to honor Dr. King’s legacy and the dedication to racial equality,” said Dr. Brittany Bell, assistant dean of students and director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence and co-chair of the Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. “Although the pandemic has changed how we celebrate this year, let us continue to come together in unity. The unrest in our nation has shown us we have lots of work to do.”

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Bettina L. Love, delivering the address, Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality, & Black Joy.

Love, an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia, will discuss how intersectionality and Abolitionist teaching “creates a space where Black lives matter and sensibilities are nurtured to engage communities in the work of fighting for visibility, inclusion, and justice.” Her talk will end by calling on people to engage in critical dialogues about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in our communities. She will challenge the audience to “envision a world built on Black joy, creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and the rebellious spirit and methods of Abolitionists.”

Music will be performed by Griot B, delivering Agitate: A Story Through Song.

There is no youth essay contest this year due to challenges posed by the pandemic. A book giveaway sponsored by Memorial Presbyterian Church in Appleton and the City of Appleton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will be announced as part of the event.

At Lawrence, the event will be preceded with a series of online educational opportunities focused on antiracism, hosted by the Center for Community Engagement. No classes will be held on the day, and students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to partake in the virtual presentations and discussions. The events include:

10 to 11 a.m.: A virtual book discussion will be held featuring Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir, a book selected as a community read for Lawrence. The discussion comes in advance of the Jan. 28 virtual convocation featuring Laymon. Find more information here.

1 to 2:30 p.m.: A disability policy and advocacy event is planned. Alexandra Chand ’21 and the Disability Working Group will lead a session about advocacy and lobbying for disability rights-related legislation. Participants will learn how to call and write to elected officials and examine pieces of relevant legislation at the state and federal level. A follow-up event will be planned. Find more information here.

2:45 to 4 p.m.: An antiracist solutions and strategies workshop will be hosted by Kye Harris ’21. The workshop will address the history of leadership, movements, and protests, and explore action plans for individuals, collectives, and institutions to combat discrimination in all forms. Find more information here.

4 to 5:10 p.m.: Music for All: MLK Concert is planned. Hosted by Jacob Dikelsky and Music for All, the virtual concert will highlight music of BIPOC composers. Find more information here.

All of the Lawrence events require advance registration. You can find more information here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

“Why Keep Dreaming? A Time for Action” Focus of Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

Logo of Dr. Martin Luther King Community CelebrationThe 28th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration will feature a day of service and learning for Lawrence University students, culminating in a powerful message of action through unity from Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. A leading expert on diversity and privilege, Moore is a dynamic speaker and educator who leads his audience in interactive, fun, challenging and informative presentations. The celebration will also include musical performances, readings from student essay contest winners, and the presentation of community awards.

The celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy will be held Monday, Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public and will include a sign language interpreter.

In addition to Dr. Moore’s presentation, Fox Cities community members will be presented with the 25th annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Community Leader Award and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Educator Award. This year’s recipients will be honored at a reception immediately following the program in Shattuck Hall 163 on the Lawrence campus.

The three local winners of the annual MLK student essay contest will also read their award-winning essays. This year’s winning student essayists are:

  • Feyikami Delano-Oriaran, 2nd grade, Classical School Appleton
  • Lilyanna Pieper, 6th grade, Huntley Elementary
  • Catlin Yang, 12th grade, Kimberly High School

In addition to the evening celebration, the Lawrence community will continue its tradition of engaging in a day of service through a variety of events:

  • The OxFam Hunger Banquet, sponsored by the LU Food Recovery Network, will kick off the day at 10:30 a.m. in the Warch Campus Center.  The LU Food Recovery Network will lead an interactive hands-on activity highlighting the issues and laws that keep people trapped in poverty.
  • At 1 p.m., students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to volunteer at community organizations throughout the Fox Cities including Feeding America, the Menasha and Fox Valley Boys and Girls Clubs, and Riverview Gardens. These student-led initiatives benefit the community and help Lawrentians solidify the value of service learning.
  • Informal teach-in sessions, where faculty provide expert insights into community issues that impact equality for will take place across campus between 1 and 4 p.m. Topics include “Hunger and Health in a Wealthy Nation” and “The Global Climate Justice Movement,” among others.

More information regarding the MLK, Jr. Day of Service can be found at http://www.lawrence.edu/students/volunteer/mlk.

Lawrentians Honor Dr. King’s Call to Service With Community Engagement

MLKDay-2015_newsblog
Junior Isabell Dammann, Portland, Ore., joined other members of Greenfire in creating hats from old sweaters to donate to local shelters as part of a day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On the day set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lawrence University students put the civil rights leader’s call to service into action. With no classes scheduled for the day, more than 250 Lawrence students provided their time and talents to 16 Fox Cities organizations throughout the community.

Volunteer activities ranged from making housewarming gifts for residents of newly built Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity houses to staging a winter carnival for residents of Brewster Village to helping organize donations at Harbor House, the local domestic abuse shelter.

Other organizations that benefited from the community engagement efforts of Lawrence students included the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley, Riverview Gardens, Bethesda Thrift Store, Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Homeless Connections, COTS, St. Joseph Food Program, St. Elizabeth Hospital and SLUG, among others.

Additionally, another 50 student leaders provided their talents to the community through music performances, swing dancing, physical activity and art instruction.

The day began with a student/staff/faculty discussion of education equality in public schools centered around the documentary film “Waiting for Superman.”

MLK-Day_newsblog2
Otter Pinske (center), a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minn., was among several students who shared stories of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with area youth at the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Cities.

“While it’s a privilege to serve with hardworking non-profit leaders, students were encouraged to think about the necessary services these organizations provide and to dream of a day where everyone has the resources necessary to meet their universal human rights,” said Kristi Hill, Lawrence’s director of volunteer and community service programs.

See other stories about Lawrence’s engagement in the community on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from Fox 11, NBC-26 and WFRV-TV.

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.