BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Indiana University faculty, staff, students, and community members reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King through various activities, programs, and presentations.
These events—including Indiana University's second annual social justice conference—are designed to engage and inspire community and university members and help them envision ways to carry forward Dr. King's work in a manner relevant today.
"This year's MLK celebration is a time to reflect on how we can truly transform the lives of others in our communities for the better," says James C. Wimbush, IU vice president of diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs; dean of The University Graduate School; and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership at IU. "The events scheduled, especially the social justice conference, provide an opportunity for each of us to learn, grow, and continue the work of Dr. King in our own small way."
Indiana University's Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) will host A Journey Toward True Education: Social Justice Conference 2022 from Sunday, January 16, through Monday, January 17. The conference will include 18 concurrent virtual and in-person presentations, programs, and workshops led by nationally recognized speakers. Scheduled keynote presenters and social justice activists include Benjamin Crump, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, and Tabatha Jones Jolivet, Ph.D.
Crump, a renowned civil rights leader, attorney, author, and media influencer is one of the nation's foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. Known the nickname of "Black America's Attorney General," he is president of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association and former president of the National Bar Association.
Barber is a highly sought-after speaker who has given keynote addresses at hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. In addition, he is president and a senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach; co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary; pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and the author of four books.
Jones Jolivet is an abolitionist, organizer, and scholar. She is an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences at Azusa Pacific University, where she teaches doctoral courses on equity and inclusion, leadership, and research inquiry. She is co-author of a critical book, White Jesus: The Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education (Peter Lang, 2018), an organizer in Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, and board member of Abolitionist Sanctuary, a newly-formed organization that trains civic and faith leaders in the work of abolition.
"The Purpose of Education," written by Martin Luther King Jr. and published in Morehouse College's campus newspaper in 1947, is the basis for this year's conference theme. In the article, Dr. King argues that education has a utilitarian and moral function and that character and moral development are necessary to give the critical intellect a humane purpose.
In 1947, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that we must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. "On the day of commemoration for Dr. King's birthday and legacy, members of the broader IU community will pursue education in its truest form. Our keynote speakers and workshop presenters will elevate conversations that reinforce our institution's commitment to lifelong learning and our individual responsibility to strive toward achieving Dr. King's dream," said Monica Johnson, assistant vice president of Diversity Education and Cross-Cultural Engagement.
Honoring Dr. King's Legacy
In conjunction with the social justice conference, OVPDEMA will host "Together We Commit: Student Leadership Curriculum." Designed for student leaders across Indiana University, the program will take place on Sunday, January 16 through Monday, January 17, on the IU Bloomington campus. Each campus will have two student leaders selected to participate in this inaugural program, with all expenses paid. Applications are due by Monday, December 20, 2021, and selected leaders will receive notification by January 3, 2022.
IU MLK Student Organization Grant
To further honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, OVPDEMA is launching a new university-wide initiative awarding $500 grants to student organizations to offer a program, host an event, or create an effort supporting inclusivity, respect for diversity, and community service. All 2022 grant applications are due by Monday, December 20, 2021, and awardees will be announced during the social justice conference on January 17, 2022. Funds must be used by December 31, 2022.
The Building Bridges Award
The Building Bridges Award honors an individual or organization exemplifying equality, diversity, inclusion, and respect. Indiana University invites students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners to submit nominations for the 2022 Building Bridges Award. One student and one additional community member (faculty, staff, local organization, etc.) from each campus will be recognized. All 2022 nominations are due by Monday, December 20, 2021.
To learn more, visit mlkcelebration.iu.edu.