Jan. 25, 2016 – Editor's note: This story, originally published in December, has been updated with additional events that have been added. Also, the location of Matthew Winston Jr.'s keynote address at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, has been changed to the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires Student Center. The headline was also updated to promote Winston's speech tonight.

BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech community will have numerous opportunities to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. the last two weeks of January.

University offices are closed and there are no classes on Jan. 18, King's birthday and the official holiday honoring him, but that day still kicks off a series of events that highlight King's impact on our world.

This year’s theme originates from King’s quote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” The Jan. 18-31 celebration showcases collaborations throughout the university to bring awareness to the influence and power of King’s life and mission. Student organizations, academic departments, and the Division of Student Affairs are all providing events and opportunities for the university community to honor King.

Brian Armstrong of Norfolk, Virginia, a graduate student studying higher education and student affairs, serves as the president of the Black Graduate Student Organization of Virginia Tech.

"It is important to celebrate Dr. King's legacy on our campus as he served as an incomparable example of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)," said Armstrong. "His courageous leadership and service to others has held a lasting impact in our country and has been an enormous motivator for myself to continue to serve others."

Jeremy Hamlet of Lynchburg, Virginia, a junior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, serves as the director of Black Cultural Awareness in the Black Student Alliance. 

“We believe it is important to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Virginia Tech because of his fight for basic civil rights as well as being the voice for many people of color,” said Hamlet. “At this time, the university is dealing with its own issues of inclusiveness and there is no better champion that we can learn from than Dr. King.”

A list of scheduled events appears below. Updates and any new events scheduled will appear on Virginia Tech’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration website and will be published in January in Virginia Tech News, the university calendar, and GobblerConnect.

  • Where Do We Go From Here? Continuing the Fight for Institutional Change
    • Monday, Jan. 18
    • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Multipurpose Room, Graduate Life Center
    • "The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public sector and the private sector to work to get rid of racism. And now if we are to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation." - Dr. King
    • Enjoy an interactive session targeted at learning, discussing, and plotting the next steps in the equality race for graduate students. Listen to a briefing about what has been accomplished as a result of last year's discussion. Discuss what has not been handled and plot the path of the future. All are welcomed! 
  • MLK Day of Service: New River Community Action
    • Monday, Jan. 18
    • 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • Serve a full day with New River Community Action (NRCA) helping to paint, sand, scrape, clean, and beautify their site. Trip is limited to six volunteers. For information, email Lucy Adams or call 540-231-7042.
  • MLK Day of Service: Children's Nest preschool and daycare
    • Monday, Jan. 18
    • 9:45 a.m. to noon
    • Revamp the library with a book hospital. Organize, clean, and repair books in preparation for the semester. Trip is limited to five volunteers. For information, email Lucy Adams or call 540-231-7042. Register through GobblerConnect.
  • MLK Day of Service: YMCA at Virginia Tech
    • Monday, Jan. 18
    • 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Serve with the YMCA at Virginia Tech in the organization's thrift store. The thrift store supports the YMCA's operations, including outreach and education efforts in the community, and their mission of building community through learning, leadership, and service. Leave campus at 9:45 a.m. and return by 3:15 p.m. Lunch will be provided. For information, email Lucy Adams or call 540-231-7042.
  • Capacity Building: Developing a Plan for Servant Leadership
    • Tuesday, Jan. 19
    • 1:30 p.m.
    • Old Dominion Ballroom, Squires Student Center
    • This workshop, sponsored by the Black Male Excellence Network, will help students reflect on their strengths and develop a plan to use those to spark positive change. For more information, email Tommy Amal.
  • MLK Service: The Mayapple School
    • Tuesday, Jan. 19
    • 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • Serve with the Mayapple School, a non-profit preschool in Giles County. Tasks will include outdoor work on the playground, weather permitting, and indoor work on the classroom. Transportation will be provided from Virginia Tech Campus to the service site. Registration required. For information, email Lucy Adams or call 540-231-7042.
  • The Path to Peace
    • Jan. 19 to Feb. 27
    • Opening reception on Thursday, Jan. 21, 5-7 p.m.
    • Perspective Gallery, Squires Student Center
    • Perspective Gallery presents an art exhibit entitled “Path to Peace” and a community reception for regional school-aged children. The exhibit will include art from public school, private school, and homeschooled students within a 50-mile radius of Virginia Tech. Running from Jan. 19 to Feb. 27, the exhibit features student work that was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. Art will be installed to resemble a path along the gallery wall to represent the small things we all do to work toward peace. For more information, email Robin Scully Boucher.
  • Dissecting the Molecular Mechanisms of Vocal Learning and Spoken Language: A Personal Journey From a Diversity Perspective
    • Thursday, Jan. 21
    • 3:30 p.m.
    • Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Auditorium
    • Erich Jarvis, associate professor of Neurobiology at Duke University,  will present discoveries that his group has made on understanding brain mechanisms of a complex trait, vocal learning, and how cultural influences and diversity impacted those discoveries.
  • Workshop on Civil Disobedience
    • Saturday, Jan. 23
    • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Multipurpose Room, Graduate Life Center
    • Civil disobedience was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s preferred direct action strategy. The Black Caucus will provide a workshop on this strategy for Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students, and the New River Valley community to discuss the processes and goals of civil disobedience in the modern social and political context. For more information, email Brandy Faulkner.
  • MLK Service: Headstart
    • Saturday, Jan. 23
    • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Access to early childhood education resources for children can be very difficult! One of the organizations providing early childhood education is New River Community Action's Headstart program. Join us in lending a hand supporting the great work they do, and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Serve with the Blacksburg/Christiansburg Headstart, making their start a great place for kids to learn! Tasks will include site beautification, painting, cleaning and yard work. For more information, email Lucy Adams
    • Transportation will be provided from Virginia Tech to the service site.
  • The Psychosocial Benefits and Challenges of Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Urban Middle Schools
    • Monday, Jan. 25
    • 3:30 p.m.
    • Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Auditorium
    • Sandra Graham, professor of human development and psychology at UCLA and the University of California presidential chair in education and diversity, will present at this event sponsored by the diversity committees of the Department of Psychology, Department of Human Development, College of Science, and School of Education.
  • Keynote Address by Matthew Winston, Jr., senior associate vice president for alumni relations at Virginia Tech
    • Monday, Jan. 25
    • 5 p.m.
    • Commonwealth Ballroom, Squires Student Center
    • Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to attend a keynote address on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who epitomized courageous leadership. 
  • Countdown to the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Black Cultural Center at Virginia Tech
    • Monday, Jan. 25
    • 6-8 p.m.
    • Black Cultural Center, Squires Student Center
    • Following the keynote address, refreshments will be provided at this drop-in style reception sponsored by the Virginia Tech Intercultural Engagement Center. The official 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Black Cultural Center will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, 2016 — kicking off the Black Alumni Reunion Weekend. For more information, email Kristen Houston.
  • “The Butler”
    • Tuesday, Jan. 26
    • 6 p.m.
    • Haymarket Theatre, Squires Student Center
    • In honor of MLK Week, the Black Student Alliance will be showing the award winning film "The Butler" to commemorate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For more information, visit the event on GobblerConnect.
  • A Conversation on Race: Unity and Diversity on Campus
    • Wednesday, Jan. 27
    • 6:30 p.m.
    • Graduate Life Center Multipurpose Room
    • What’s your experience of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity at Virginia Tech? Join students and community members seeking a healthier campus climate through this interactive dinner and dialogue. Please pre-register online to help the organizers order enough food. For information, email Shavonn Whiten.

Written by Holly Paulette.

Share this story