University honors Martin Luther King Jr. with week of observance

K-State Communications and Marketing

The Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week concluded with the Laying of the Wreaths Ceremony on Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy of Kimathi Choma)

Kansas State University hosted several events across campus for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week, Jan. 26-30. This year's events centered around the theme of Growing a Soul for Social Justice.

"We chose this theme because the country is awash in pain and controversy over police brutality, immigration reform and other critical human rights issues," said Myra Gordon, associate provost for diversity. "If we could all just have more empathy and sensitivity for others, more love in our hearts, more understanding of demographic inevitabilities, our country could continue its journey toward the realization of Dr. King's dream of a society that is just and equitable for all."

That Monday, K-State Salina hosted The Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Tea consisting of an interview with the cast of Clybourne Park, a satire set in 1959 about community leaders who stop the sale of a home to a Black family.

During the 11th annual Diversity Student Leaders Program on Jan. 27, sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Rodney Patterson, director of corporate diversity and talent management officer for CoBank, shared his story and the principles that guide his life's journey. Following the event, Commerce Bank hosted a reception to award Justine Floyd, senior in agribusiness, and Bryon Williams, assistant director of admissions, their Presidential Awards for Diversity.

Eric Butler, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Union Pacific, spoke at the 16th annual Diversity Lecture for the College of Business Administration on Jan. 28. Later that day, the College of Arts and Sciences sponsored a Teach-In where faculty members led discussions and facilitated dialogues on today's pressing social justice issues. That evening, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture and Candlelight Vigil. Robert Page, assistant to the president at Metropolitan Community College, presented a lecture entitled: Beyond Ferguson: His Legacy, His Dream.

The signature event, the Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Luncheon, took place Jan. 29. Keynote speaker, G. Pritchy Smith, spoke on the week’s theme Growing a Soul for Social Justice. Smith is co-founder of the National Association for Multicultural Education and professor emeritus of education at the University of North Florida.

To finish the week, the annual Laying of the Wreaths Ceremony took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. bust at Ahearn Field House. Martha Smith Caldas, instructor in the Division of Biology and member of Alianza, and Kimathi Choma, interim assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and president-elect of the Black Faculty and Staff Alliance, delivered comments.

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