December 11, 2017
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Colby College plans Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017 events

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WATERVILLE, Maine — Nationally recognized scholar Aldon Morris will be the keynote speaker as Colby College commemorates the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with public events through Jan. 24 on the theme “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest.”

Aldon Morris, professor of African-American studies and sociology at Northwestern University, whose recent book explores the social and political underpinnings of the civil rights movement and its legacy, will speak on “Du Bois at the Center: From Science to Martin Luther King to Black Lives Matter” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building at Colby. It is free and open to the public.

Morris’ most recent book, “The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology” (2015), has garnered national recognition. President David A. Greene will give the welcoming, and a reception and book signing will follow.

“As we commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in 2017, we face a time of political and social transition that requires us to recommit ourselves to the values of equality, justice, nonviolence, action, and social change that are the foundation of King’s great dream for beloved community,” said Betty Sasaki, interim associate dean of diversity, inclusion, and equity and associate professor of Spanish at Colby, in a press release. “That recommitment must include equal parts courage and fortitude to sustain both our belief in and our on-going work for the freedom invoked in the Ella Baker tribute.”

The theme “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest” is a line from an a cappella song honoring Ella Baker, an African-American civil and human rights activist who worked alongside W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr. Considered the most influential woman of the civil rights movement, Baker challenged hierarchies of privilege and championed grassroots movements for greater social justice and civic engagement and activism.

The Drum Major for Justice Award, presented Jan. 16, will recognize campus members who have made a commitment to social justice. This year Ester Topolarova ’17, a Czech citizen who executed the United for Better Dining Services campaign to increase dining hall worker wages at Colby, and Emily Schusterbauer, director of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Program and associate director of the Pugh Center, will share the award.

The Colby College Museum of Art will offer an “I am a …” poster-making workshop 4-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the museum. The “I am a Man” phrase became a statement of the civil rights movement in reaction to the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike in 1968. Visitors are invited to make their own “I am a …” poster using materials supplied by the museum.

A multi-faith service celebrating the King legacy will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 , in Lorimer Chapel. A special gospel choir will perform. To join the choir, or for information, contact Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life Kurt Nelson.

Opportunities for the Colby community to engage in dialogue about issues central to civil rights include a social justice movie and discussion Jan. 18 and 24, and a campus-wide lunch discussion on understanding and practicing civil rights in the modern age Jan. 16.

Colby’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative events are sponsored by the college’s African-American Studies Program, Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Office of the Provost, Office of the Dean of the College, Cultural Events Committee, Pugh Community Board, Pugh Center, Student Government Association, and the MLK Day Commemorative Planning Committee. For more information contact the Dean of Students Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Programs, 207-859-4250.