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Calvin Events Mark MLK Day
January 5, 2005

Calvin College will host and participate in a variety of events to mark the celebrations of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The activities actually will begin prior to the January 17 holiday as Calvin hosts its annual MLK Young Leaders Weekend from January 14-16. This is an annual three-day event featuring workshops, seminars, movies, worship, time for reflection and more for local high school students who have been nominated by their churches and schools for their leadership activities and potential.

The Weekend will be sponsored by Calvin's Office of Pre-College Programs and Office of Multicultural Student Development as well as the school's new African and African Diaspora Studies minor.

"This year," says Randal Jelks, director of the African Studies minor, "there will be two workshops blocks where students will learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement as well as how they today can be catalysts for social change while remaining rooted in a firmament of faith."

The students, who will be joined by Calvin College students for the entire weekend, also will do a service learning project and, Jelks, says, the intent is to make a strong connection between service and thinking about the structural problems of a community. The service learning is then followed by a time for reflection on what the various groups have learned. After free time, the community then watches a film together and is led in a "talk back" session.

On Sunday the young leaders will attend a community church. Following the church service, parents of the high school students will join the leaders for a closing banquet to be held at Grand Rapids Reach, Inc. Together, parents, youth and college students will think about their calling as Christian leaders. The banquet will also include a financial aid presentation entitled "Preparing to Lead through Higher Education: Dispelling the Myths About College Costs."

The Calvin committee for the event includes: Rhae-Ann Booker, director of pre-college programs; Jacqueline Rhodes, assistant dean of multicultural student development; Melvin Thomas, Pathways to Possibilities coordinator; and Jelks.

The sponsors for the weekend are the Points of Light Foundation, Meijer Inc. and the Richard D. Van Lunen Foundation.

Then a trio of on-campus events will help Calvin students, faculty and staff observe the January 17 holiday.

At 10 am on January 17 the college will host a special chapel service dedicated to the memory of King and his role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. At 12:30 pm that day Calvin dean Barbara Omolade will speak as part of Calvin's annual January Series. Her talk will feature her own story of faith, family and student activism - a story that includes active participation in the Civil Rights movement as well as a personal journey that saw her raise a family, earn two graduate degrees, teach college and become a convert to Christianity.

Finally at 3 pm on January 17 Calvin will host a Martin Luther King Jr. March - an event that will see marchers gather at the Calvin Fieldhouse and then march to the Calvin Chapel where they will witness an MLK re-enactment: Letters From A Birmingham Jail as brought to life by actor Brian Jones.

Calvin also will have a presence at the city-wide MLK Celebration slated for 6:30 pm at Grand Rapids Community College. Sankofa, a Calvin student drum group, will participate in the two-hour program, (and the college is offering free coach transportation to and from the downtown event for all those students, staff and faculty who wish to attend).

Also several Calvin College interim courses (interim is a three-week term in January during which students take just one class) explore aspects of the Civil Rights movement, including The Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. from 1954-1965 (taught by Omolade).