Penn's 20th annual MLK Symposium begins Jan. 15

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Penn’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Symposium for Social Change. Robert Carter, co-organizer of the Symposium and associate director of the University’s African-American Resource Center, says Penn has made a quantitative commitment to honoring King’s legacy and keeping his dream alive by providing two decades worth of funding, space, and programming.

“There continues to be a need for our human family to combat, in Dr. King’s words, ‘The giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism’ for his dream of a ‘beloved community’ to be realized,” Carter says.

The 2015 MLK Symposium will bring to campus newsmakers such as Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teen Trayvon Martin, and actress and activist Rosario Dawson.

The Symposium opens on Thursday, Jan. 15—King’s actual birthday—and runs through Friday, Jan. 30.

Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher kicks off the Symposium on Jan. 15 with the keynote address at a health equity forum presented by the Perelman School of Medicine. The program will be held from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium at the Smilow Center for Translational Research, 3400 Civic Center Blvd.

On Monday, Jan. 19, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at Penn will begin with a community breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags before volunteers fan out across campus and the surrounding community.

Service projects in Houston Hall will include creating books on tape to promote literacy and assembling personal care gifts for West Philadelphia shelters, homes, hospitals, and charities. Workshops on “Understanding College Financial Aid” and “The College Application Process” will be held for parents of college-bound students and high school juniors, respectively.

Several service projects will take place in West Philadelphia throughout the day that are focused on community beautification, cleaning, and painting. A project organized by Civic House seeks to draw attention to hunger in Philadelphia through volunteering at the SHARE Food Program, packing food to be sent to soup kitchens. The Day of Service will end with a candlelight vigil procession from W.E. B. DuBois College House at 39th and Walnut streets to the Compass on Locust Walk.

On Tuesday, Jan. 20, the Center for Africana Studies presents the 14th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture in Social Justice, which will feature actress and activist Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, with whom Dawson co-founded the social enterprise Studio One Eighty Nine, as well as Tiffany Persons, founder of Shine On Sierra Leone. Camille Charles, a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Africana Studies, will join them in conversation. The event will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St.

The Symposium’s Interfaith Program, which will be held on Thursday, Jan. 22, honors individuals whose active service exemplifies King’s vision and work, and will feature music and dance performances by members of the Penn community. Sybrina Fulton will deliver the keynote address and join in conversation with civil rights activists Michael Skolnik and Bakari Kitwana. The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Irvine Auditorum, 3401 Spruce St.

All programs, workshops, and events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.

Martin Luther King, Jr.