KINGSTON, R.I., Jan. 30, 2017—Over the years, civil rights activists, community organizers and scholars have helped the University of Rhode Island honor Martin Luther King Jr. during a weeklong campus celebration.
This year, the University has a special guest: Joe Wilson, the local actor who has won rave reviews for his role as King in Trinity Repertory Company’s The Mountaintop.
Wilson, who is in his 11th season at Trinity, will be the keynote speaker at a Unity Luncheon Feb. 7 from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in the Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road. To attend, please register.
Wilson will talk about his role as the iconic civil rights activist and his experience writing and performing one-minute plays about the Black Lives Matter movement, including the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old African American Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2015.
This year’s theme of MLK Week—“We Are Confronted With the Fierce Urgency of Now’’—is from King’s 1967 speech opposing America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Events from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10 include a day of service and outreach to middle school students; workshops on art and activism, the 1963 March on Washington and civil rights after the 2016 presidential election; a talk on the disproportionate impact of climate change on the quality of black lives; and meditation sessions.
The annual event heralds the life and legacy of King, who was assassinated April 4, 1968 at the age of 39 while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tenn. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the national holiday has been observed since 1986.
Other events include:
Art as Activism: A Conversation and Workshop on the Role of Art and Artists in Today’s Political Climate, co-sponsored by Brothers On A New Direction, or B.O.N.D., and the Department of Theatre. The talk is Monday, Feb. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Hardge Forum at the Multicultural Student Services Center, 74 Lower College Road. Speakers are Wilson and URI alumna and Rhodes Scholar Rachel Walshe, a lecturer in the theater department.
After the End of the World: Black Lives, Matter and the Anthropocene,” co-sponsored by the College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the Department of Marine Affairs, Monday, Feb. 6, from 4 to 5 p.m., at Galanti Lounge in the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons. Vanessa Agard-Jones, an assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University, will talk about climate change and the vulnerability of African Americans.
Compassion Meditation, co-sponsored by the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Friday, Feb. 10, noon to 1 p.m., Multicultural Student Services Center. Thupten Tendar, a Buddhist monk and URI instructor, will offer guidance on how to be kind, an undervalued quality in today’s world. Research has shown that compassion brings happiness, reduces fear, enhances self-image, increases empathy and boosts immunity.
Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, sponsored by the Department of Theatre, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 5 to 6:30 p.m., in the Hardge Forum, Multicultural Student Services Center. Bryna Wortman, an associate professor of theater who attended the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered the famous “I Have A Dream” speech, will coordinate the discussion.
The Avi Schaefer Multicultural/Multifaith Shabbat Dinner, co-sponsored by URI Hillel, the Chaplains Association and the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, Friday, Feb. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Norman Fain Hillel Center. As part of URI’s Critical Community Conversations, the dinner brings together students of diverse backgrounds for an evening of ethnic foods and small-group discussions. To attend, please register.
Unity Luncheon with the keynote speech by Wilson Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m., in the Memorial Union, co-sponsored by Student Entertainment Committee, Student Affairs Diversity Fund, Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, the Chaplains Association and the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Kinte Howie, a URI student, will emcee the event—a sharing of food, song and reflection to preserve the memory of King’s life and legacy.
Beyond the 2016 Election: King’s Radical and Revolutionary Vision for Where Do We Go From Here?, Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., in the Hardge Forum, Multicultural Student Services Center, co-sponsored by the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and Africana Studies Program. Paul Bueno de Mesquita, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, and Norman Barber, adjunct faculty in Africana Studies, will coordinate a workshop that explores how listening leads to reconciliation and empathy and brings people closer to King’s vision of the “beloved community.’’
Get Students to Focus on Learning Instead of Grades: Metacognition is Key!, Thursday, Feb. 9, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., in the Memorial Union, and Metacognition: The Key to Acing Courses!, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in Edwards Auditorium, co-sponsored by the Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and Office of the Provost. Saundra McGuire, director emerita of the Center for Academic Success and a chemistry professor, talks about strategies to achieve academic success.
Increasing Student Motivation: Strategies That Work, co-sponsored by the Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and the Office of the Provost, Friday, Feb. 10 from 9 to 10:15 a.m., in the Memorial Union. McGuire discusses strategies based on student needs for autonomy, competence, self-esteem and enjoyment that significantly increase student motivation.
Martin Luther King Day of Service, co-sponsored by the School of Education, the Office of Greek Life and the Solidarity Collective, Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Hardge Forum, Multicultural Student Services Center. URI students will meet with middle-school students from Paul Cuffee School, Highlander Charter School and the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program to talk about King and promote college awareness.
Melvin Wade, diversity events specialist for the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, is urging URI faculty to incorporate events into their courses and to offer academic incentives to students for attending.
Sponsors of MLK Week are: MLK Week Planning Committee; Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning; Student Entertainment Committee; School of Education; Office of Community, Equity and Diversity; Student Affairs Diversity Fund; Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies; Chaplains Association; Office of Greek Life; Departments of Marine Affairs and Theatre; Africana Studies Program; Norman Fain Hillel Center; Brothers On A New Direction, or B.O.N.D.; Office of the President; Office of the Provost; College of the Environment and Life Sciences; Solidarity Collective; Paul Cuffee School; Highlander Charter School; and the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program.
For more information, visit the MLK site or call Melvin Wade at 401-874-5243.