MLK day at Eastern

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added January 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Starting Thursday, Jan. 12, Eastern Michigan University will begin its annual celebration of the life and legacy of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King.

This year, there will be fifteen different official events and twelve academic programs.

The five days of events will wrap up on Tuesday, Jan. 17, with a screening and discussion of Spike Lee’s provocative film “Four Little Girls.”

Starting the events will be Storytellers: Health Disparites.

In this storytelling event, several performers of different ethnic backgrounds will have a chance to share stories about the health disparities that affect their communities.

There will then be information about the different resources available to help counteract them and discussions on how we can move forward. This event will be held at 3 p.m Jan. 12. in room 352 of the Student Center. Admission is free.

At 7 p.m. Jan. 13, in cooperation with The Poetry Society, the 11th annual Color of Drums performance will be held in Pease Auditorium.

The event will feature several poets tackling issues of race and inequality. There will also be performances by the Diversion Dance Troupe and an expanded opening by New York-based poet Adam Falkner.

At this event, The Poetry Society will be accepting donations of school supplies to benefit Detroit Public Schools.

Following the Color of Drums, in the EMU Rec/IM will be the MLK lock-in. The event, which is scheduled to last until 2 a.m., will feature a litany of activities, including karaoke, a photo booth and basketball.

Saturday, Jan. 14 brings the Minority Student Organization Fair, which will be held in the EMU Convocation Center atrium prior to and during the half-time recess of the EMU vs. Western Michigan University women’s basketball game. You can visit the organizations beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.

In a show of support, both teams will be wearing special commemorative shirts during their warm-ups.

Following the game, at 6:30 in Pease Auditorium, the H2E student talent competition will be held. The audience will be treated to a variety of performances from EMU students. The performers are going to be scored by a panel of judges. The winners of first, second, and third places will be given scholarships of $750, $500 and $250, which will be deposited directly into their student accounts.

Monday, Jan. 16 brings MLK Day and a wide range of activities for the EMU community to take part in.

The first is a breakfast buffet with special guest speaker Carl Meisha Wourman. The buffet will begin at 7:45 a.m. in Student Center room 300, and Wourman will begin speaking in room 310 A/B at 8:45 a.m.

At 10 a.m. in the Student Center auditorium, the MLK keynote address from Lani Guinier will be given. In 1998, Guinier made history when she became the first African-American woman to become a tenured professor at Harvard Law School.

Among her accomplishments, she was nominated in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, only to have her name withdrawn without a confirmation hearing. She is the author of several notable op/eds and a memoir.

Guinier will be bringing her wisdom and unique point of view to the keynote address, which will continue the theme of “The Strength Within.”

A luncheon will be held at 11:30 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. At the luncheon, there will be an awards ceremony, and Guinier will summarize points from her keynote address.

From 2-4 p.m. there will be several academic events. More information on the topics that will be discussed can be found at

At 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Close-Up theater troupe will be bringing their theatrical skills to the Student Center Auditorium for two “The Strength Within”-themed performances.

At 6 p.m., in co-operation with Alpha Phi Alpha, there will be a march from the Student Center to the MLK monument and back. The symbolic march is being held “because marches were such a large portion of the civil rights movement,” MLK Celebration co-chair Keith Jason said. “It’s just a way to commemorate one of the methods that was used during the civil rights movement to bring progress.”

After a long day of informative and enlightening events, the Afterglow, which will be held in Student Center room 300, will be decompression time. The event will give participants a chance to mingle and discuss, while enjoying appetizers and live jazz.

The official events of the MLK celebration will close out Tuesday, Jan. 17, with two discussions in the Student Center Auditorium at 5 and 6:30 p.m., respectively. The first will be a cover of Martin Luther King’s 1963 book, “The Strength of Love.” The second discussion will involve a screening of Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary film “Four Little Girls.”

In between the two discussions, there will be refreshments served from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

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