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King Week celebrates legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Speakers, community awards and opportunities to help others are among Emory’s events to celebrate the life and work of civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr. Photo by Dick DeMarsico. Public domain as part of the New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (Library of Congress).

The life and legacy of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored this month with Emory’s King Week, a series of community events intended to encourage reflection, education and engagement.

Activities begin Monday, Jan. 21 — the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — with an invitation to join in a day of volunteer service. Inspired by King’s vision of a “beloved community,” students on Emory’s Atlanta and Oxford College campuses are encouraged to volunteer time with a variety of community groups.

At Emory, that could include service projects set in parks, green spaces and nature centers, community gardens and food pantries, senior centers and social service organizations, says Johannes Kleiner, associate director of civic and community engagement for the Division of Campus Life.

The “Day On” event is organized by a team of students through Volunteer Emory, a centralized hub for student service opportunities and social justice work. Turnout for the event typically approaches several hundred volunteers, including strong involvement from campus student organizations, he notes. Transportation to community sites will be provided.

“It’s a great way for students seeking meaningful engagement with the broader community to channel their energy into having an impact in metro Atlanta, especially for first- and second-year students who might have limited ability to get off campus,” Kleiner says.

Volunteers are divided into groups of 15 to 30 people, “so the team spirit is really a big part of this,” he explains. “It’s a wonderful way to start the semester with service while honoring the legacy of Dr. King by really paying tribute to the special place he holds in Atlanta.” 

“Day On” activities will begin with an 11 a.m. kickoff at the Cox Hall Ballroom and continue until 4:30 p.m. Registration opens a week in advance and usually fills quickly, notes Kleiner. 

At Oxford College, students, staff and faculty are invited to participate in an MLK Day of Service from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will meet at Candler Hall for a snack and check-in before beginning community work, which will include trail maintenance, landscaping and staffing a local community wellness fair, says Ricardo Horne, assistant director of community engagement in Oxford’s Office of Student Involvement and Leadership.

The remainder of the week will feature a full roster of events, including keynote addresses, community service awards, public dialogue and worship services.

Here is the current schedule of King Week activities:

Monday, Jan. 21

Emory’s Day On, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Cox Hall Ballroom

Kickoff from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Cox Hall Ballroom. Student volunteers may sign up here when registration opens

MLK Day of Service, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Oxford College

Check in at Candler Hall. Sign-up here by Jan. 17. Students, staff and faculty are welcome.

Tuesday, Jan. 22

MLK Week keynote address, 4 p.m., Cox Hall Ballroom

Leonard Pitts Jr., syndicated columnist, novelist and 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, will deliver the keynote address at this free community event sponsored by Emory’s Department of African American Studies.

MLK Celebration at Oxford College, 7:30 p.m., Old Church, Oxford  

“The King Letters: A Retrospective,” will be the focus of this year’s celebration, featuring the Rev. Gregory C. Ellison II, associate professor of pastoral care and counseling at Emory’s Candler School of Theology; Julian Reid, third year master of divinity student at Candler; and poet, songwriter and educator Tavares Stephens, co-founder and president of VerbalEyze Inc., which promotes and supports the development and professional growth of young writers. 

Thursday, Jan. 24

27th Annual MLK Community Service Awards, 4 p.m., Goizueta Business School, W525

Co-sponsored by Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and Goizueta Business School, this annual ceremony recognizes Atlanta community members whose work exemplifies King’s legacy. This year’s theme is “Standing Strong During Times of Challenge and Controversy,” featuring guest speaker Sheryl Heron, professor and vice chair of administrative affairs in Emory’s Department of Emergency Medicine, assistant dean for medical education and student affairs on the Grady campus, and associate director of education and training for the Injury Prevention Research Center at the Emory School of Medicine.

MLK Celebration Lecture, 6 p.m., Emory University School of Law, Tull Auditorium 

Robert M. Franklin Jr., James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, will speak on “Revisiting Dr. King’s Theory of Love, Power and Justice.”

Social Justice Dialogue, 7 p.m., Cox Hall Ballroom

Emory Conversation Project and Volunteer Emory will host this community event, which is free and open to the public.

Sunday, Jan. 27

Beloved Community:  Christian Worship at Emory

Cannon Chapel, 11 a.m.

Worship service will feature the Rev. Melva L. Sampson 02T 17G, assistant professor of preaching and practical theology, Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Lunch to follow in Brooks Commons.

Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Worship will feature Robert M. Franklin Jr.

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