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From the Desk: Honoring Dr. King

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James Wimbush. Photo by Anna Powel... Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James Wimbush. Photo by Anna Powell Denton
One of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most frequent themes during his lifetime of public service was a call to action for equal rights for all.

Indiana University continues to answer that call, as members of the university community spent time on the national holiday honoring King’s life and legacy, and engaging in various activities, programs and presentations.

While this year is the 37th anniversary of the first observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a U.S. federal holiday, it is the 25th anniversary of the IU Board of Trustees declaring classes canceled on the third Monday in January to celebrate the holiday.

Todd Deloney, then-president of the IU Northwest Black Student Union, and Peggy Elliott Miller, IU Northwest chancellor emerita, were the catalysts behind IU Northwest closing its doors in 1992 in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Jan. 19, 1998, due to expanded efforts, the university closed all campuses for MLK Day, allowing faculty, staff and students to join members of the community in honoring King’s life and legacy.

This year’s activities on MLK Day included IU’s third annual Social Justice Conference;  Thema Bryant, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab, was the keynote speaker. Her work raises awareness about mental health issues and her belief that it is time to heal and thrive.

During the conference, we honored 22 individuals with the prestigious Building Bridges Award, recognizing those who capture King’s vision, spirit and leadership in ways both big and small — right here at IU and within communities across Indiana.

Among other events, IU campuses also hosted a trip to the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, a performance of Vernon Williams’ play “Being Black,” and an event featuring political strategist, commentator and author Symone D. Sanders.

Moving forward, IU will continue its efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive place of learning.

James Wimbush is vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs.