UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt and North Carolina native and former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be featured speakers during UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2018 MLK Celebration Week, beginning on Jan. 14. This year’s theme is “Voices. Presence. Community.” 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 traditional efforts: the University/Community Annual MLK Banquet, the MLK Day of Service 5K and the MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony. In addition, a candlelight vigil, unity dinner and other events that address intersectionality and encourage social justice and activism are scheduled to take place Jan. 14-19 – the week of what would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday.

“We are truly honored to have two such esteemed speakers at our MLK events. Carolina’s very own Chancellor Folt and the 83rd U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch have both dedicated themselves to advocacy and service,” said Dr. G. Rumay Alexander, Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for the University Office for Diversity & Inclusion. “Especially during these unprecedented times, their work continues to provide momentum and persistence to Dr. King’s legacy of equality, inclusion, and peace.”

The 33rd 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 Jr. Corporation in partnership with UNC’s University Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and held at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education on Sunday, Jan. 14. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 6 p.m., and features musical selections, Folt’s keynote address, and the Citizenship Awards, which recognize those in the community who have demonstrated “enduring service to humanity by word and by deed.”

When Carol L. Folt became Carolina’s 11th Chancellor, and 29th in the lineage of leaders that dates back to Carolina’s founding, she said: “As America’s first public university, Carolina became the gold standard. The founders passed the baton, and the future is up to us. How can we fulfill this honorable charge in a way that is ever fresh and relevant?”

Folt – an internationally recognized life scientist, award-winning teacher and accomplished academic leader – has worked to fulfill that honorable charge by placing Carolina’s students at the center, advancing the university’s academic excellence, championing Carolina as a leading global public research university and focusing on innovation through the development of new avenues for entrepreneurship that are translating world-class ideas into real-world applications.

Carolina, which routinely ranks among the nation’s top public universities and is noted as one of the best values in college education, welcomed its largest and most accomplished class this past fall. Once again selected from a record pool of applicants, approximately 15 percent of the Class of 2021 are the first in their family to attend a four-year institution of higher education. Carolina is one of the nation’s top ten research universities and, in the last couple of years, the university has reached nearly $1 billion in annual research expenditures.

Under the chancellor’s leadership, Carolina also has continued to improve on the school’s winning track record of undergraduate diversity, retention and graduation rates – particularly for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students – while moving forward with additional emphasis on Carolina’s historic commitment to ensuring affordability together with accessibility and excellence. Carolina received the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation 2017 award for Equity in Educational Excellence, the largest award in the nation recognizing a college or university for its success in enrolling low-income students and supporting them to successful graduation. Carolina is one of the few public universities that remains both need-blind and covers the full financial need of its students.

As leader of North Carolina’s flagship public university, Folt and her leadership team champion attracting, developing and retaining world-class faculty that are focused on excellence in teaching and research. Carolina is committed to benefiting its local and state communities and to cultivating the global outlook of its students, with more than a third of Carolina undergraduate students studying abroad – one of highest rates among public universities.

Folt came to Carolina from Dartmouth College, where she was interim president in 2012-2013 and served as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences and academic leader. Folt graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning both a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and a master’s degree in biology. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Davis and undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University before joining the faculty at Dartmouth.

Tickets are $30. To purchase, please contact MLK Celebrations Coordinator Ariana Wiggins, at arariana@live.unc.edu

The MLK 5K Day of ServiceRunners at the 2016 MLK 5K

On the following morning (Monday, Jan. 17), runners will lace up their sneakers and gather at the Campus Y in the early morning for a light breakfast prior to participating in the MLK 5K. Runners will wind their way around the campus’s neighboring streets before passing through the victory balloon arch. Prizes will be awarded to runners in several categories.

This Day of Service event is sponsored by ROCTS (Rejuvenating Our Community Through Service) and co-sponsored by Fleet Feet, Diversity & Inclusion, CHispA, Carolina Dining Services and generously supported by the Parents Council Grant Program.

In keeping with Dr. King’s bridge-building work, proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will benefit Girls on the Run of the Triangle and Healthy Girls Save the World, an organization founded by a Carolina alumna.

Girls on the Run of the Triangle is a nonprofit, physical activity-based, positive youth development program for girls in third through eighth grades designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experiences. Their mission is to create a world full of joyful, healthy, and confident girls acting on their values and opportunities. As the name implies, running is a part of the program, but their primary focus is empowerment. Their experience-based curriculum is designed to help girls across the Triangle activate their limitless potential.

For more information, please visit www.gotrtriangle.org.

Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) is a student-run chapter at UNC of a national nonprofit organization. The mission of HGSW is to provide transformational experiences and education on proper nutrition, the benefits of physical activity, and overall healthy lifestyles so that girls will be knowledgeable and enabled to make healthy choices in their lives. HGSW organizes after-school programs and summer camps that encourage the development of healthy and balanced lifestyles for girls. HGSW aspires to serve, build, and develop young girls into powerful women that will save the world!

For chapter information, please contact sophscm@live.unc.edu

For general organization information, please visit http://healthygirlssavetheworld.org/

Registration is $25 and includes breakfast and a t-shirt (discounts for groups). To register, please visit bit.do/mlk5k.

The MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony

On Thursday night (Jan. 18) at 7:00 p.m., former U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch will deliver the Keynote at the MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony. From her national community policing tour to help improve the relationship between local law enforcement and communities they serve, to transgender rights, to her bold stances on criminal justice reform, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch epitomizes the Obama administration’s end-of-tenure posture of not shying away from tough issues, offering audiences unique and powerful insights on civil rights, 21st century policing, and criminal justice reform.

Lynch was born on May 21, 1959, in Greensboro. She received her A.B., cum laude, from Harvard College in 1981, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984.

In 1990, after a period in private practice, Lynch joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, located in Brooklyn, the city she considers her adopted home. There, she forged an impressive career prosecuting cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption, and civil rights, including the high-profile case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was sexually assaulted by uniformed police officers in a Brooklyn police precinct in 1997.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the office as United States Attorney, a post she held until 2001. In 2002, she joined Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) as a partner in the firm’s New York office. While in private practice, Lynch performed extensive pro bono work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in the 1994 genocide in that nation. As Special Counsel to the Tribunal, she was responsible for investigating allegations of witness tampering and false testimony.

In 2010, President Barack Obama asked Lynch to resume her leadership of the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. Under her direction, the office successfully prosecuted numerous corrupt public officials, terrorists, cybercriminals and human traffickers, among other important cases.

President Obama announced his intention to nominate Lynch as Attorney General on Nov. 8, 2014, and she was sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, and the first African American female AG, on April 27, 2015.

In addition to Lynch’s Keynote delivery, two special presentations will be made: The MLK Scholarship, which is awarded to a UNC-Chapel Hill junior; and, the MLK Unsung Hero Awards, which are awarded to a UNC staff/faculty member, department, or a community/corporate entity.

Tickets are free, but required. They are available online and at the Carolina Performing Arts box office.

For more information about these highlighted events or to learn more about additional campus and community MLK Week events, visit https://diversity.unc.edu/programs/mlk/.

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– by Adrianne Gibilisco, Diversity & Inclusion

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