In a few short months, Valparaiso University will celebrate the 26th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration for the 2015-2016 academic year. The 2016 Celebration will take place during a period of several days before and after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 18. This year’s theme is “Facing the Challenge of Change.” We strongly encourage you to study the text of the speech, delivered at the convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967, and to reflect on Dr. King’s thorough accounting of the movement’s accomplishments over the previous year and the challenges it still faces.

Where Do we Go From Here?

On January 18, two 60-minute focus sessions will be held, separated by a 15-minute intermission. During the first period, from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., invited speakers will present on three areas of particular concern from Dr. King’s speech: poverty, race and violence. These guest plenary speakers will focus on what has brought us to our current state. We are inviting students, faculty, staff and community members to consider facilitating a session during the second period, from 2:30 to 3:30, which will be devoted to answering Dr. King’s question, explored throughout his speech and subsequent book entitled: “Where do we go from here?” When deciding on a topic for a focus session, you should keep in mind the theme “Where do we go from here?” as well as the three thematic tracks of poverty, race and violence.

As a committee, we will be looking for presenters who will explore both the challenges and the sustained efforts of the present and the possibilities offered by Dr. King’s vision of a future shaped by power backed with unconditional love and a strong commitment to nonviolence. Examples might include explorations of issues within the political, legal, economic, healthcare, educational and other systems, in our campus and local communities and beyond. We invite presentations that examine these issues from different perspectives: spiritual, socioeconomic, historical, anthropological, and systemic. We also encourage a range of formats and presentation styles, from lectures and performances to panels and interactive activities and discussions.

To propose a focus session, please complete the form by Friday, November 6, 2015. Please remember when writing your proposal to consider carefully how your session will help us to reflect upon this year’s Focus theme: “Where do we go from here?” Stay tuned for announcements about the wide variety of events and presentations, which will be held throughout campus in the days before and after January 18 to help celebrate the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Focus Sessions Committee

Heath Carter, Byron Martin, Stacy Hoult-Saros and Dan Saros

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