Indiana University campuses ready to celebrate 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In honor of the late civil rights leader's legacy, Indiana University's 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will be marked by an extensive array of programming on IU campuses across the state. This annual tradition will also include IU students leading the MLK Day of Service, an effort to give back to the communities surrounding IU's campuses.

"It is a great privilege for the IU community to be able to demonstrate its commitment to the values that Dr. King stood for, particularly as we approach the 50th anniversary of his tragic assassination," said James Wimbush, IU vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, dean of the University Graduate School and Johnson Professor for Diversity and Leadership. "Dr. King's message is reflected in the way IU's students, faculty and staff come together to inspire others and affect positive change, not only for this celebration but throughout the year."

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W. Kamau Bell Photo courtesy of CNN

IU Bloomington will host its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Breakfast, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 15 in the Indiana Memorial Union's Alumni Hall. The breakfast, which will recognize students, faculty, staff and community organizations with the Building Bridges Awards, will also feature keynote speaker W. Kamau Bell, a sociopolitical comedian and host of the Emmy Award-winning CNN television program "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell."

Media availability with Bell begins at 8 a.m. in the IMU's Federal Room. Following the breakfast, Bell will sign copies of his book, "The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell," from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the IMU's East Lounge.

Other IU Bloomington Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration events that are open to the public include:

  • "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration" -- The city of Bloomington's annual event, a partnership with IU, will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The keynote speaker is the Rev. Harold Middlebrook, a friend of King's and an active participant in nonviolent civic engagement efforts.
  • "MLK Day Teach-In: Activate Your Activism" -- Local high school and middle school students will take part in a letter-writing campaign to advocate for the social cause of their choice, from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 in the IU School of Education atrium.
  • "Unity Summit" -- A collaboration between the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and the Office of Student Life and Learning, this annual interactive exploration of King's writings takes place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 15 in Grand Hall at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

At IUPUI, the 49th Annual IUPUI Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner -- the longest-running Martin Luther King Jr. Day-related event in the Indianapolis community -- will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Presented by IUPUI's Black Student Union in conjunction with the IUPUI Multicultural Center, the theme of this year's event is "A Call to Conscience." The keynote speaker is Opal Tometi, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter activist movement and the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. 

IUPUI's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 15. Participating IUPUI students, faculty, staff and members of the community will check in at the IUPUI Campus Center in the morning, then volunteer together at locations across Indianapolis.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration events occurring at other IU other campuses that are open to the public include:

  • IU East: Sponsored by the IU East Diversity Events Committee and the School of Social Work, the campus will host a Day of Service to install fire detectors with the American Red Cross of Richmond, Indiana, starting at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 15. The following day features "The Dream. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration," which includes a talk by keynote speaker Karen Freeman-Wilson, the mayor of Gary, Indiana, at 10 a.m. in Vivian Auditorium; a candlelight vigil at noon in the Whitewater Hall Lobby.; and an Underground Railroad presentation by Denise Dallmer and the Levi Coffin House at 2 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium.
  • IU Kokomo: Co-sponsored by IU Kokomo and the Omicron Phi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, "Advancing the Dream -- Let Freedom Ring" is the theme of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Sen. Greg Taylor will be the keynote speaker at Second Missionary Baptist Church in Kokomo at 4 p.m. Jan. 13. A screening of the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro," followed by a discussion led by IU Kokomo chair of history and political science Sarah Heath, will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Kresge Auditorium on campus.
  • IU Northwest: Stephon Ferguson, who performs historical presentations and re-enactments as King and works with the National Park Service at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, will make a presentation at 6 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Theatre Northwest at the Arts and Sciences Building.
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus: A panel featuring community members and current students will engage in a discussion titled "Columbus Then and Now: How Far Have We Come, How Far Do We Have to Go?" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 15 at IUPUC's Columbus Learning Center.
  • IU Southeast: The IU Southeast MLK Day of Service, sponsored by the campus offices of Campus Life, Volunteer Programs and 21st Century Scholar Services, will bring students, faculty and staff together from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 to perform community service at the Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana, Green Valley Care Center and Our Place Drug and Alcohol Services. The School of Arts and Letters will host its sixth annual speech contest -- co-sponsored by Campus Life and the Department of Communication Studies and featuring speeches that celebrate the vision and legacy of King -- at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 in Room 127 of the IU Southeast University Center.

Visit IU's  2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration website for a full list of activities.

Media Contact

Elizabeth Blevins

Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs

Phone: 812-855-9772



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