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Calvin to Celebrate MLK Day
January 10, 2007

Calvin College is planning a wealth of activities to celebrate the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., commonly known as Martin Luther King Day, on January 15, 2007.

Three Calvin offices are teaming up for one of the celebratory events: the office of multicultural student development is collaborating with the office of pre-college programs and the Calvin admissions office for a MLK Teach-in/Young Leaders Retreat.

Young people from a variety of area churches-nominated through the Pathways to Possibilities program-will join Calvin students for a series of civil rights-focused workshops (the younger students will spend the night of Sunday, January 14 in the Calvin residence halls).

The entire Calvin community is invited to participate in a commemorative march, beginning at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, January 15 at the Calvin Fieldhouse. Marchers will wend their way through campus to the chapel, where Earl James of City Vision, Inc., a consulting firm for churches and other nonprofit organizations, will speak on Martin Luther King as a hero.

That's an important message, says Jacque Rhodes, the assistant dean for multicultural student development, adding that King's birthday is a reminder of the many heroes of his era.

"Martin Luther King is the important face of the Civil Rights Movement, but there were so many everyday people who brought the change about," she says, "so it’s a reminder to me that ordinary people do extraordinary things."

Also that day, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Calvin Fine Arts Center, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil will speak on "The Heart of Racial Justice" as this year's January Series MLK Day speaker.

"She'll be dynamic," Rhodes promises. "Every time I've ever heard her speak, she actually preaches."

Immediately following that address at 1:30 p.m., there will be a January Series Talk-back near the fireplace in the Hekman Library lobby. The entire Calvin community is welcome.

"This gives students a chance to process what Brenda Salter McNeil has said, an opportunity to process out loud the key points or themes that were significant to them," says Rhodes.

And at 3 p.m. that day, in the same location, there will be a slide show titled "Remembering the Movement: Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King." Cake and punch will be served to honor what would have been King’s 78th birthday.

Though the official Calvin celebration of MLK Day ends with the cake and punch reception, organizers of the celebration encourage the community to attend "Inherit the Dream," an address by Harvard legal professor Lani Guinier from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. downtown at the Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse.

Rhodes says what is important about celebrating King’s birthday varies from person to person.

"For me it's important because unless we understand and reflect on our history, we're doomed to repeat it," she says. "I can easily envision a time we could go back to Jim Crow laws. Only this time it wouldn't be for African American people; maybe it will be for middle eastern people. We have perfected the art of oppression. So King's birthday is a reminder to me that as Christians we need to always be seeking justice, pursuing it."

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson