On January 18, Indiana University celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the 35th anniversary of MLK Day as a national holiday in the United States.
Due to COVID restrictions, this year's MLK Day celebration was a virtual social justice conference. Titled "Where Do We Go From Here," the conference took its name from Martin Luther King's book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" In this book, Dr. King focused on the newfound freedoms granted to African Americans by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how all Americans should come together to fight against injustices such as poverty and create equal opportunities for all. The virtual conference boasted a final registration total of roughly 4,300.
The conference hosted over thirty unique sessions that focused on diversity and social justice and featured various speakers from across the IU system and beyond. Sessions such as "Power to the People: A Timeline of Music Through the Lens of Social Justice," LGBTQIA vs. QTPOC: What's in a Name?" and "No More Excuses: Stop the Revolving Door by Moving from Rhetoric to Outcomes" were attended throughout the day.
Ten recipients received the annual Building Bridges Award during the conference, one from every IU campus, regional center, and the IU School of Medicine. Presented to those who capture Dr. King's vision, spirit, and leadership in their work, a full list of awardees can be found here.
The keynote event was in collaboration with the Madame Walker Legacy Center and featured a discussion between civil rights activists Angela Davis and Alicia Garza. CNN political commentator and NPR political analyst Angela Rye served as moderator.
Davis, a distinguished professor emerita of History of Consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California Santa Cruz, is an author of ten books and an internationally recognized political activist, scholar, educator, and founding member of the Critical Resistance.
Garza serves as the strategy and partnerships director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and is co-founder of Supermajority, a new home for women's activism. She has organized around issues of health, student services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people of color.
The keynote featured a one-on-one conversation between Rye and each of the keynote speakers who discussed their work, social justice, and what MLK Day means to them before the three came together for a spirited conversation between generations of civil rights and social justice leaders. The full keynote and the Building Bridges Award presentation and conference sessions are available on the diversity education site.
Additionally, IU Athletics offered a virtual MLK Day event with former Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl Champion Coach Tony Dungy. Dungy spoke to nearly 400 IU student-athletes, coaches, and staff members. Organized and hosted by the IU Athletics Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, "Tony Dungy: A Conversation on Leadership, Courage, and Embodying the Dream" provided participants the opportunity to hear him discuss topics ranging from social justice to leadership to faith and its role in athletics. For more information on Dungy's event, please visit this link.