Distinguished journalists to speak at Penn for MLK Symposium

In a city that lays claim to the nation’s largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Penn not only hosts a day of community service on the holiday, but also presents more than two weeks worth of events to honor King’s legacy. Now in its 22nd year, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Symposium on Social Change will be held from Sunday, Jan. 15, to Thursday, Feb. 2. The full calendar is available at the MLK Symposium website.

The 2017 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture in Social Justice will headline the Symposium's events. The New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow and MSNBC’s Joy Reid, a correspondent and host of “AM Joy,” will visit campus for a public conversation with Camille Z. Charles, the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences and director of the Center for Africana Studies. The program will be held on Monday, Jan. 30, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St. It is sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, and Office of the President.

“We selected Charles Blow and Joy Reid for this year’s program because they are among a handful of mainstream journalists who are holding themselves and the industry accountable in this new, post-Trump reality,” Charles says. “This is especially bold of them as African Americans with broad crossover appeal working for mainstream platforms. Each of them is dedicated to consistently calling out false equivalencies, uncomfortable truths, and outright dishonesty in our current sociopolitical climate, particularly as these impact marginalized populations.”

Penn’s MLK Day activities on Jan. 16 will begin with the annual Day of Service Breakfast for volunteers at 8:30 a.m. in the Hall of Flags at Houston Hall. Some of the onsite service projects will include creating books on tape to bolster youth literacy, making tutus and superhero capes for children at local daycare centers, and painting commemorative banners.

Volunteers can also roll up their sleeves off campus, painting and sprucing up the Kingsessing Recreation Center at 4901 Kingsessing Ave., and the Laura Sims Skate House at 210 S. 63rd St. Transportation will be provided.

A candlelight vigil, presented by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Psi Chapter, will begin at 7 p.m. at 3900 Walnut St., outside Du Bois College House and proceed through campus.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, an Interfaith Commemoration and Awards Program will recognize campus and community leaders. The event will be held in Bodek Lounge of Houston Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. A reception will follow.

A perennial Symposium favorite, “Jazz for King” will be held on Friday, Jan. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St.

Workshops will abound during the symposium.

Hot button topics will include “Faith, Race, Power, and Privilege: Developing and Maintaining Multiracial, Multicultural & Multi-faith Alliances Toward Equity and Justice on College Campuses;” “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Strengthening Partnerships Between Universities and Communities;” “King’s Conversation;” “The Other America;” “From the Great Migration to Black Lives Matter;” and “Talking to Our Children about Race and Diversity: A Discussion for Parents and Caregivers.”

Robert Carter, associate director of the African-American Resource Center (AARC), and AARC staff assistant Colleen Winn are co-chairs of the Symposium executive planning committee.

“The MLK Symposium is just one way Penn offers the community an answer to Dr. King’s question: ‘What are you doing for others?’” says AARC Director Valerie Allen. “We encourage everyone to be involved in service and advocacy on the Day of Service and throughout the year.”