Penn honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with symposium

Penn plans to celebrate the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a series of events that bring together the University and the surrounding community.

The annual Commemorative Symposium on Social Change, which began on Jan. 15 and runs through Feb. 1, offers events that include talks, volunteer opportunities, musical performances, film viewings, and a candlelight vigil.

“The annual MLK Symposium has grown into three weeks' worth of events that celebrate [not only] cultural and racial diversity, but also social justice, volunteerism, and a true sense of community,” says Robert Carter, associate director at Penn’s African-American Resource Center and executive co-chair for the Commemorative Symposium Planning Committee.

On Monday,  Jan. 21, when the MLK holiday is officially observed, Penn will commence the day’s activities with the Day of Service breakfast at Houston Hall, featuring performers and a speech by Herman Beavers, a professor in the Department of English.  

Day of Service volunteers will help clean and paint several area schools, including Martha Washington Elementary School at 766 N. 44th St. At a children’s banner painting event, kids will create commemorative posters and banners while listening to stories and songs about King. The day will wrap up with a candlelight vigil that begins at Du Bois College House at 39th and Walnut streets at 7 p.m.

On Jan. 24, Penn will host an Interfaith Program and Awards Commemoration at Houston Hall that will focus on the religious themes of the civil rights movement, and King’s life and ministry. Six community and student leaders will be honored for their public service work, and community leaders will be honored for their work in helping improve the lives of others. Additionally, the event will feature poetry by Sonia Sanchez and musical performances by African Rhythms, the Shabbatones, and the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir.

Near the end of the month, Tuesday, Jan. 29, Penn will sponsor a panel discussion with educators and political representatives on what colleges and universities can do to help reduce violence in cities.

To see the entire list of MLK Symposium events, visit the African-American Resource Center website.