Faculty, staff, students to be honored at UO MLK event

The University of Oregon invites all members of its Eugene and Portland campuses and community members to the UO Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration and Awards Ceremony Thursday, Jan. 13. This year’s theme is “Amplifying Voices for Racial Solidarity and Equity.”

The program, a pre-recorded virtual event featuring a live chat, will premiere on the UO YouTube channel on Jan. 13 at 11 a.m. A link to the virtual event will be posted on the Division of Equity and Inclusion website beginning Jan. 12.

Previously planned watch parties in Eugene have been cancelled and replaced with grab-and-go boxed lunches and free Martin Luther King Jr. swag. All will be available in the Erb Memorial Union Gumwood Room from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required for lunch boxes.

The Portland watch party will be Jan. 13, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the White Stag Building, Main Event Room (1st Floor). Lunch will be provided and pre-registration by Jan. 7 is required.

Jamar Bean, program advisor of the Multicultural Center and Sarah Kutten, assistant vice provost of Students and Belonging at UO PDX, will emcee the virtual event. Rabbi Meir Goldstein, senior Jewish educator at Oregon Hillel, will give the morning blessing.

The program will include presentations to winners of this year’s awards and acknowledgement of all nominees. Charise Cheney, associate professor, Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies and director, Black Studies Program, will provide the keynote address. Aris Hall, coordinator of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, will offer opening remarks. Isaiah Allen, a member of the class of 2022 majoring in Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies and Sociology, and a student staff member of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, will provide closing remarks. The Azucar Cuban dance group also will perform a tribute.

Lesley-Anne Pittard, assistant vice president for Campus and Community Engagement for the Division of Equity and Inclusion and assistant vice provost for the diversity initiative in the Office of the Provost, stressed the importance of this year’s theme. “So much has occurred and still needs to be done especially since the summer of racial reckoning. We have a long journey ahead and we must stand together to achieve our shared hopes, goals and dreams for a more just future,” Pittard said.

“The intention of our theme, ‘Amplifying Voices for Racial Solidarity and Equity’ is to inspire us to continue our work by building upon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of being in solidarity, standing together, as we seek justice, freedom and liberation for those who are oppressed, marginalized and unseen.”

Following the virtual event, campus members can participate in the second virtual Courageous Conversations event of this school year. It’s also the second straight year Courageous Conversations will take place as part of Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations at the UO.

The topic will be “solidarity,” to reflect this year’s MLK theme. According to Pittard, the sessions are “intended to be spaces for civility, connection, respectful listening and authenticity.” The dialogue breakouts will be hosted by Courageous Conversations facilitators, members of campus diversity committees and members of the President’s Diversity Advisory Community Council.

Conversations are open to all campus members and will take place virtually from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

Other campus and community events and activities are planned for the official federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Jan. 17 and later in the month.

The Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement will honor the legacy of Dr. King by serving the local community and focusing on educating oneself about racial justice in K-12, locally and nationally, and exploring the impacts for the future. The Holden Center MLK Day of Service is Jan. 17, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with check-in at 8:45 a.m. Find out more on the Holden Center website.

The UO is one of many sponsors and participants in the annual NAACP/Eugene-Springfield Community MLK March and Commemoration on Jan. 17. Participants are asked to meet and Park at Lane County Youth Services’ John Serbu Campus from 8:30 to 9 a.m. A kick off rally takes place from 9 to 10 a.m. at the north gate of Autzen Stadium. A closing program will be held at The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts from 11 a.m. to noon. Vaccinations are required. The program will also be zoomed live. Check the NAACP Facebook page for further information.

The UO is also continuing sponsorship of the Skanner Foundation Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, which includes scholarship announcements for UO students. The virtual event begins at 9 a.m. on Jan. 17. The event is free; registration is required.

Payton Head will deliver the UO’s Martin Luther King Jr. keynote address on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom.

Head is a community leader who works to empower students and campus administrators to fight hatred with radical love for others and themselves. With the National Campus Leadership Council and the US Department of Education he co-authored a guide for student leaders on strategy for addressing inclusion at educational institutions. He presents to university communities nationwide on the importance of creating a culture of acceptance.

The Payton Head keynote is organized by the BE Series and the Multicultural Education Engagement and Student Success program of the Dean of Students.

More information on MLK UO and community events can be found on the Division of Equity and Inclusion website and through social media.

—By tova stabin, University Communications