Weeklong MLK Day events scheduled

MARQUETTE — To honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., an equality march and several service projects will take place at Northern Michigan University Monday, with other celebrations occurring throughout the week.

“NMU students have MLK Day off, so we like to host this in honor of MLK, but also give students the opportunity to get involved right at the start of the semester,” said Marley Redd, volunteer coordinator at NMU’s Center for Student Enrichment.

NMU, along with 23 other organizations throughout the state, was recently awarded around $500 from the Michigan Community Service Commission to help with the costs of the events.

“Volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a fitting way to honor Dr. King, strengthen communities through service and bring people together,” MCSC Executive Director Ginna Holmes said in a press release.

Monday’s events at NMU will kick off at noon with a peaceful march starting at the Forest Roberts Theatre and proceeding across campus to the Lodge at The Woods student housing complex.

At the Lodge, light refreshments will be offered as several speakers discuss a variety of matters. The “Poetry Without Borders: Let Freedom Ring” program will also be held.

This year’s speakers include Dr. Jessica Cruz, NMU’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer; Anna Wheeler, a junior at Marquette Senior High School, who will share a speech she wrote as a school assignment that’s gone viral about offensive mascots; Dr. Lesley Larkin, associate professor of English, who will discuss “What black literature means to me;” Dr. LaMart Hightower, assistant professor of social work, will present on “The birth of the civil rights movement and its impact on other movements and how we are facing similar issues todays;” Dan Truckey, director of the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center, will discuss American culture and the border; Dr. Anna Zimmer, assistant professor in languages/literature and international studies, will present the poets for the Poetry without Borders series; and Tristan Ruiz, Superior Edge volunteer center coordinator, will discuss other volunteer opportunities.

After the program, the college’s Center for Student Enrichment will sponsor the following service projects, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Lodge: making toys for dogs at the Upper Peninsula Animal Shelter; knitting and crocheting hats, scarves and mittens for Room at the Inn guests; making fleece tied blankets for the Women’s Shelter; two separate orientations for anyone interested in volunteering at NMU’s Food Pantry and Room at the Inn; and creating Valentine’s cards for residents of the Jacobetti Home for Veterans. Students will also be at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum at 2:30 p.m. to read books to youngsters and lead coloring projects.

“A lot of these are repeating service projects and I know some people try and stay away from being repetitive, but these are really strong local nonprofits here that make a difference every single day,” Redd said. “We’ve focused on Room at the Inn multiple years and UPAWS because people can recognize who they’re impacting, which we think is super important. It’s not just blind volunteerism, you’re making a positive impact on your own community.”

Along with Monday’s activities, motivational speakers Donzell Dixson, Elijah Kondeh and Donte Curtis of Dixon Dynamics will address “Living Fearlessly” in a presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday in room 1320 at Jamrich Hall.

The Diversity Common Reader Program will also distribute this year’s selection, “Redefining Realness” by Janet Mock, to NMU students on Friday. Free books and pizza will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Hedgcock Atrium outside the Multicultural Education and Resource Center, or MERC.

Aside from the book giveaway, the events are open and free to the public.

In conjunction with the Center for Student Enrichment, the events are sponsored by the President’s Committee on Diversity and the MERC.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.