Journalist and producer Soledad O’Brien and state Senator Valerie Foushee will be featured speakers during UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2017 MLK Celebration Week, beginning on January 15. This year’s theme is “Keeping the Faith: A Call to Press On” and will include events dedicated to the intersectionality of diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
UNC-Chapel Hill has a long history of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Since 1983, Carolina’s celebrations of his legacy have been part of a campus-wide initiative that extends well beyond the boundaries of Franklin Street and into the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community. The University proudly honors Dr. King’s bridge-building efforts through several long-standing traditions: The University/Community Annual MLK Banquet, the MLK Day of Service 5K and the MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony. In addition, numerous performances, discussions, and screenings addressing intersectionality and encouraging social justice and activism are scheduled to take place Jan. 15 through 20 – the week of what would have been Dr. King’s 88th birthday.
“It is such an honor to have North Carolina Senator Valerie Foushee and esteemed journalist Soledad O’Brien speaking at our MLK events,” said Dr. G. Rumay Alexander, Interim Chief Diversity Officer for UNC’s Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Special Assistant to the Chancellor. “Their contribution to Dr. King’s legacy of service and advocacy resonates especially now.”
The 32nd annual University/Community Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet and Award Presentation
Kicking off the week’s events is the Annual University/Community Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet and Award Presentation, hosted by the MLK Planning Corporation, in partnership with UNC’s Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, held at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education on Sunday, Jan. 15. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 6 p.m., and features musical selections, a spiritual litany, and the Citizenship Awards, which recognize those in the community who have demonstrated “enduring service to humanity by word and by deed.”
It is a special honor to have UNC alumna Valerie Foushee delivering the Memorial address. The state Senator received her BA in Political Science and African and Afro-American Studies in 1978 and went on to serve 21 years in the Chapel Hill Police Department. Foushee has been heavily involved in local education – elected to the Board of Education for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in 1997 and re-elected in 2001, during which time she also served as Chair. In 2004, she became the first African American female on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, to which she was re-elected in 2008 and served as Chair from 2008-2010. Foushee was elected to the NC House in 2012, representing rural Orange and Durham counties.
Tickets are $30. To purchase, please contact Diversity Celebrations Co-Coordinator Cameron Congleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MLK The Time is Now 5K Day of Service
On the following morning (Monday, Jan. 16), runners will be lacing up their sneakers and gathering at the Campus Y before sunrise for a light breakfast prior to participating in the MLK The Time is Now 5K. Runners will wind their way around the campus and neighboring streets before passing through the victory balloon arch. For those participants seeking a less challenging route, a one-mile fun walk will also take place. Prizes will be awarded to runners in many categories.
The Day of Service event is sponsored by student organization ROCTS (Rejuvenating Our Community Through Service), co-sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports, Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Department of Housing & Residential Education, and generously supported by the Parents Council Grant Program.
This year, the fundraiser will benefit the Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award, named in memory of the beloved UNC student who had dedicated herself to service. The award, given by UNC-Chapel Hill’s American Indian Center and the Carolina Indian Circle, supports a sophomore student with books, supplies and basic living expenses while pursuing a career in a helping or health profession and serving American Indian populations.
Registration is $25 and includes breakfast, a t-shirt and an armband (discounts for groups). To register, please visit rocts.web.unc.edu.
The MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony
On Tuesday night (Jan. 17) at 7:30 p.m., renowned journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien will deliver the Keynote at the MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony. O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group (SMG) in 2013, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity, through personal stories. The highly successful documentary series Black in America and Latino in America are among the many products of SMG. In addition, O’Brien and her husband, Brad, created the PowHERful Foundation to help disadvantaged young women with college access and success. This year, 25 women will receive scholarships.
In addition to O’Brien’s Keynote delivery, two special presentations will be made: the MLK Scholarship, which is awarded to a college junior; and the MLK Unsung Hero Awards, which are awarded to a UNC staff/faculty, department, or a community/corporate entity.
Tickets are free, but required. They are available online and at the Carolina Performing Arts box office.
The Keynote Lecture is co-hosted by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Carolina Union Activities Board, in partnership with Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Parents Council Grant, Association of Student Governments, Interfraternity Council, National Panhellenic Council, Department of Housing and Residential Education, Student Congress, Residence Hall Association, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, School of Dentistry, Carolina Association of Black Journalists, Carolina Center for Public Service, School of Education, Department of Athletics, World View, American Studies, School of Information and Library Science, and Department of Dramatic Art.
The 2017 MLK Celebration Committee is grateful for the support of Carolina Performing Arts, the American Indian Center, Stone Center for Black History and Culture, and the various student organizations represented in the committee in designing and offering the week of events.
For more information about these highlighted events or to learn more about additional campus and community MLK Week events, please visit http://diversity.unc.edu/programs-and-initiatives/mlk/.
by Adrianne Gibilisco