Joe Monaco
KU Office of Public Affairs

KU to host annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration

Fri, 01/16/2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 19, with a series of events spanning Strong Hall, the Kansas Union and Allen Fieldhouse. The theme of this year’s celebration is Moving Forward with a Dream.

“This month, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's dream,” said Nate Thomas, vice provost for diversity and equity at KU. “In that dream, we must continue to challenge ourselves to embrace diversity, equity and social justice to create access, opportunity and inclusion for all to thrive at KU. The principles of social justice call for institutions like KU to be deliberate in diversifying its campus so that individuals feel a sense of value and belonging.”

The celebration begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Strong Hall rotunda, where the community is invited to join Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little; Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor; and others for a brief welcome. From there, a candlelight vigil will proceed on foot from Strong Hall to the Kansas Union for the Social Justice Celebration.

The celebration begins at 5:15 p.m. with a welcome from Vitter and includes performances by KU’s Interactive Theatre Troupe and a cappella group Genuine Imitation. The celebration will also feature appearances by two former KU student-athletes who played trailblazing roles in integrating KU in the late 1950s:

Homer Floyd, KU’s first black football captain and a noted civil rights leader for more than 40 years

Ernie Shelby, KU’s first black track captain, who went on to become a jazz composer and singer

The celebration continues Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse as the Jayhawks take on Oklahoma at 8 p.m. in a nationally televised game. The Lawrence-based Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir will perform KU’s alma mater and "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the game. During the game, Floyd and Shelby will again be honored. Additional information about pre- and in-game Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming is available online.

Monday’s events carry over to Thursday, Jan. 22, with a 3 p.m. screening of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in the Traditions Area of the Kansas Union.

Additionally, Jan. 26-30 will be designated as MLK Week of Service at KU. During this week, the KU Center for Community Outreach’s GROW program will teach elementary students about King’s legacy. KU students interested in volunteering should contact

The series of events and activities are sponsored and organized by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Kansas Athletics, Campus Community Outreach, Office of Admissions, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Student Union Activities, Office of Diversity & Equity and the Provost’s Office.

“Recent events across the nation remind us that conversations about race are still important and necessary, and they compel us to look at ourselves and re-examine the inequalities many of our faculty, staff, students and community members may experience as an individual from a diverse race or ethnic group,” Thomas said. “As a KU family, we must all create a culture that is able and willing to address incidents of discrimination and harassment before they happen. As we push ourselves to achieve an environment of equity and social justice, we should similarly acknowledge and thank those who have challengedand continue to support us in being a great institution of higher learning.”

For more information on KU activities, contact the KU Office of Diversity and Equity at 785-864-4904 or

For a list of all Martin Luther King Day events in Lawrence, visit

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