Each year, during the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Case Western Reserve University campus and local community come together to observe the holiday and remember the legacy King left behind. The events of the week culminate in the annual MLK Convocation, which features a keynote speaker who the university feels embodies King’s spirit of leadership, social justice and diversity.
This year’s keynote speaker, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, is an award-winning journalist, author and civil rights activist. The first African American woman to attend the University of Georgia, Hunter-Gault’s work helped to bring the reality of South African apartheid to the American public.
“Like King, Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s activism is on a global scale, and she has become a leader for civil rights,” said Marilyn Mobley, the vice president for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity. “Crisis creates reluctant leaders, and sometimes, people who didn’t plan to become an activist find themselves in situations where they must become activists. Both King and Hunter-Gault rose to the occasion.”
The gathering of both the campus and the community carries on King’s belief in the importance and strength of community and student activists.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Our Call to Action: Movement, Media and Mobilization.” Thanks to new technology and social media, mobilization is easier than ever, as shown by CWRU’s #webelonghere movement.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to think about the people, ideas and work that matter,” said Mobley. “We can have an ongoing dialogue about racism, sexism, homophobia, religious oppression and all other forms of oppression that still affect people’s lives. After the celebration, the work still has to continue.”
The MLK Convocation will take place on Jan. 23 at 12:30 p.m. The event will also include a performance by the Voices of Glory gospel choir, a welcome and update on the state of diversity at CWRU, an introduction for the 2014 Annual Diversity Report by Mobley, an introduction by university President Barbara Snyder, and a speech and question and answer session with Hunter-Gault. There is also a reception.
The event is free and is open to staff, students and the general public. Tickets are required and can be found on the Tinkham Veale University Center’s event page.