KOKOMO, Ind. — Conversations ignited by the events of 2020 — a global pandemic that uprooted lives, protests for racial justice following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of law enforcement, and a divisive election — must be continued in 2021.
Indiana University Kokomo, along with all of IU, leads the way in holding those discussions about social justice and inequality of opportunity nationwide with its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration, with events January 18 to January 23, 2021.
IU’s 2021 theme, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” the title of King’s final book, underscores this very sentiment with virtual programs, workshops, and opportunities exemplifying the humane causes espoused by this great civil rights leader — and offer opportunities to educate, learn, and grow.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said the celebration is critically important in 2021, to address the injustices being protested, and educate the campus and community.
“The ideas Dr. King believed in are just as relevant today as they were then,” she said. “We can learn from his life about diversity, love, and equality, and apply those lessons to our lives.”
While there will not be classes on Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 18, the campus will be part of an IU social justice conference, offered online. Join all of IU to hear faculty, staff, and student-led panels. Featured speakers include Civil rights icon Angela Davis, as well as Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
IU Kokomo’s Black Student Center continues the commemoration, hosting a Netflix Watch Party for Fruitvale Station, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, January 21. The biographical drama is based on the events that led to the death of Oscar Grant, who was killed in the early morning hours of January 1, 2009 by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer.
The celebration wraps up Saturday, January 23, with a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. webinar and panel discussion, co-hosted by IU Kokomo and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Omicron Phi Omega Chapter. Small Town…Big Dreams includes a panel discussion featuring Eboni Gatlin Griffin, senior broadcast producer for Good Morning America; Dr. Christopher Hayes, dentist at People’s Health Clinic; Major Milton Augustus Turner, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps; and Lora Whitticker, manager of alumni relations, Jenner & Block LLP. Panelists will discuss their challenges and successes while pursuing their dream careers.
Kate Aguilar, coordinator of student life and campus diversity, said the celebration of King’s life reminds us on that day, and every day, to hope. The goal of hosting the collaborative, community-focused events, is not only to celebrate, but reflect, she added.
“The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and of the Civil Rights movement, was the belief that we are stronger together,” she said. “We have a choice every day to choose chaos or community, hate or love, despair or hope. He chose hope.
“We hope our students and community will join us for these activities, and create some of their own by watching a documentary or film about Dr. King, giving back to the community, learning more about marginalized populations, or reading his speeches, to connect with IU Kokomo and the Kokomo community. Let’s choose hope together.”