MLK Celebration

The Value Of Humanity

January 16, 2023

Convocation Speaker:
Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton

For more than 30 years, Valpo has engaged students, faculty, staff, retirees, and the broader Northwest Indiana community in purposeful dialogue about the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how to further this legacy today and beyond.

We are happy to announce the 2023 MLK Day celebration, titled “Celebrating the Value of Humanity,” will feature a keynote address from State Senator Eddie Melton. Indiana Senator Melton was born and raised in Gary, Indiana as the son of a railroad worker and proud Steelworks Local 188 Union member.

Senator Melton

In 2015, he worked with President Barack Obama’s administration in implementing “My Brother’s Keeper,” an initiative designed to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color. He is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and received a B.S. of Organizational Management from Calumet College of St. Joseph. Recently in 2022, Senator Melton authored a senate resolution urging the legislative council to assign the topic of providing an enhanced study on Black history in each high school United States history course to the appropriate study committee.

Just like Martin Luther King Jr., Eddie is spending his life working to give a voice to the voiceless.


9:15 a.m.RegistrationHarre Union Atrium
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.Focus SessionsBrown and Gold Room, Harre Union; Ballrooms A, B, and C, Harre Union; and Duesenberg Recital Hall and Room 1412, VUCA
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.The Brauer Museum of Art Presents: 2023 MLK Celebrating Black Artists ExhibitThe Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University Center for the Arts
12 – 2 p.m.Lunch at Founders ($6)Founders Table, Harre Union
12:15 – 1:15 p.m.Guest Speaker Luncheon: David Masciotra ($10)Community Room, Christopher Center
1:15 – 1:45 p.m.Reenactment of the 1963 Civil Rights March on WashingtonStarts at Christopher Center, ends at Chapel of the Resurrection
2 – 3:30 p.m.ConvocationThe Chapel of the Resurrection
4 – 6 p.m.Campus Service ProjectBallrooms A, B, and C, Harre Union

High School Schedule:

9 – 10 a.m.RegistrationHarre Union Atrium
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.Focus SessionsBrown and Gold Room, Harre Union; Ballrooms A, B, and C, Harre Union; and Duesenberg Recital Hall and Room 1412, VUCA
12:15 – 12:45 p.m.Free Lunch at FoundersFounders Table, Harre Union
12:45 – 1:15 p.m.Campus Tour
1:15 – 1:45 p.m.Reenactment of the 1963 Civil Rights March on WashingtonStarts at Christopher Center, ends at Chapel of the Resurrection
2 – 3:30 p.m.ConvocationThe Chapel of the Resurrection

*No K-8 program will be provided.

Focus Sessions:

Economic Sustainability and Distributive Justice

Ballroom A, Harre Union


Cheryl Harris, CPM Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer, Allstate Insurance Company

Tiffany J. Bell, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor, Valparaiso University
Lacey Logan, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Management, Valparaiso University 

Affirmative Action

Ballroom B, Harre Union

Lawanda Ward

Lawanda Ward, Ph.D., M.A., M.S., J.D. Assistant Professor of Higher Education, The Pennsylvania State University

José Padilla J.D., President, Valparaiso University

Human Rights, the Ideal vs. Reality

Ballroom C, Harre Union


Robert Wichlinski, MALS Lecturer, Valparaiso University

Frank Mrvan, Congressman, Indiana
Robert Cotton, City Councilman, Valparaiso
Brendan Clancy, Trustee, Portage Township
Richard Klee, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology, Valparaiso University
Momin Mirza, Director, Rifai Institute

Identity Equitable Healthcare

Brown & Gold Room, Harre Union


Nicholas Metheny, Ph.D., MPH, RN Assistant Professor, University of Miami

Zion Gifford, Student, Valparaiso University

Environmental Justice

Duesenberg Recital Hall, VUCA


Reverend Gregory Manning Pastor, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

Julie Peller, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Valparaiso University
Chris Iceman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, Valparaiso University

The Gift of Immigration

Room 1412, VUCA

Rothschird Dangervil M.Div Student, Andrews University

Reverend Brian Beckstrom, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Mission, Church, and Ministry, Valparaiso University
Alyssa Long, Director, Compass International Family Center
Tonia Frederick, Coordinator, Compass International Family Center
Salena Anderson, Ph.D., Board Member, Compass International Family Center and Associate Professor of English Graduate TESOL Director, Valparaiso University

Luncheon with Guest Speaker:

Join us for a special luncheon with Valpo English department alum and best selling author David Masciotra ’10 M.A. from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. in the Christopher Center Community Room. Masciotra will discuss his impactful book, titled I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” a critical book for understanding where America in the 21st Century has come from and where it is going.

Books will be available for purchase outside the Community Room. Tickets cost $10 per person at the door. RSVP here.

The Brauer Museum of Art Presents: 2023 MLK Celebrating Black Artists Exhibit

Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University Center for the Arts

The recently reopened Brauer Museum of Art is proud to present Celebrating Black Artists – an exhibition that combines works by Black artists already in the Brauer’s collection with others from the private collection of Valparaiso University Professor Michael Chikeleze.

“It’s important for us to celebrate the diversity of artists represented in the Brauer’s collection,” says Brauer Museum Director and Curator Jonathan Canning. “Too often, art museums are thought to be the preserve of a white, educated middle-class. We are fortunate at the Brauer to possess works by artists from diverse cultures, races, and ethnicities. Our diverse student body will find itself represented here.”

Among notable Black artists in the exhibition are Chicago-based Richard Hunt ’13 H., one of the most prolific living sculptors, the late Milwaukee street preacher and self-taught artist, Prophet Blackmon, and Ernie Barnes, a professional football player and Sports Artist of the 1984 Olympic Games. Also on view are works by nationally renowned artists Charles White and Romare Bearden, as well as Kara Walker and Dawood Bey, two of the leading artists of our time.

The exhibition will run from Martin Luther King Jr. Day through Black History Month until Easter.


Throughout the 2023 spring semester, Valparaiso University will host additional service projects to continue Celebrating the Value of Humanity and honoring Martin Luther King Jr. At the end of each focus session, more information will be shared about the service projects during the call to action presentation.

Project: Food packing
Contact: Carrie Whittier, Lisa Jennings
When: Kick-off project on January 16, 5 – 7 p.m.

Project: Student ambassadors during Indiana Latino Institute event Dia de la Familia
Contact: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez
When: Spring 2023

Project: Unity Cafe
Contact: Sam Burgett
When: Ongoing in Spring 2023

Project: Thrive Program, Opportunity Enterprises
Contact: George Pati
When: March 2023

Project: Environmental clean-up and awareness
Contact: Tom Goyne
When: April 2023

Project: Tutoring
Contact: Salena Anderson
When: Semester-long opportunities as well as shorter projects

10:30 AM Welcome: President Jose Padilla

Opening Message: MLK Committee

Panel Discussions

11:00 AM (1.5 hr) Lessons From the Movement: What Would MLK Say?

(Sponsored by the Urban League)

Moderator: Chelsea Whittington

Panelists: Joey Kikke, Dr. Danny Lackey, Rev. Kevin Miller, Representative Frank Mrvan, Nia Pullins, Lucille Upshaw

12:45 PM (1hr) Lessons on Building a Lasting Movement versus a Powerful Moment

There are incredible events in our lives that shape and mold us as individuals and as a broader community. The magazine cover featuring the slain body of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks sitting down on the bus, and the march on Washington featuring Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, are all powerful, life-altering moments.  But what turned those moments into a movement?  In this discussion, panelists will interrogate the actions and framework needed to propel important moments into lasting movements that create and sustain systemic change toward justice.

Moderator: Deaconess Kristin Lewis

Panelists: Maggie Parker, David Rojas Martinez, Pam Saylor

2:00 PM (1hr) Lessons on Listening: Celebrating 10 Years of the Welcome Project

The Welcome Project began as a campus story collection about belonging, and has grown to include oral histories from the city and region. In 2015, the Welcome Project partnered with area nonprofits to create a mobile exhibit, The Invisible Project, featuring stories of homelessness in Porter County. By 2016, the Welcome Project had undertaken an initiative called Flight Paths, conducting oral history interviews across Northwest Indiana, digging into the history of Gary through migration, work in the steel mills, civic and church life, black empowerment, white flight, urban disinvestment, and regional politics. Throughout the Welcome Project’s 10-year history, Allison, Liz, and close to 200 students have conducted interviews, edited stories, and facilitated conversations on campus and across the region, engaging over 6000 people. All of this work is rooted in the act of listening. In collaboration with facilitators from the Civic Reflection Initiative, Liz and Allison share three stories from the Welcome Project archive in order to reflect on the practice of listening closely, a practice that can illuminate serious gaps in access, treatment, and equity in individual stories, in the project itself, and in society.

Presenters: Allison Schutte, Liz Wuerffel

Reflection Facilitators: Sarah Brase, Alice Abegunde

3:00 PM (1hr) Lessons from Experience: BIPOC Professionals Navigating the Workplace

Navigating any workspace has tremendous challenges. From building healthy interpersonal relationships to creating a strong portfolio of work to negotiating promotions and raises are all practical aspects to being an effective professional.  However, BIPOC professionals, in most cases, are navigating those variables plus the often ignored conversation about racism and its deleterious effects on their work experience.  Join this panel for a necessary conversation about the experience of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in the workspace.

Moderators: Dr. Gregg Johnson & Deondra Devitt

Panelists: Chris Chyung, Zebadiah Hall, Dr. Norma Ramey, Jamie Kaye Walters

4:00 PM (1hr) Lessons on Character and Integrity: Leadership From the Movement

(Sponsored by Richard C. & Francelia A. Gozon University Chair)

As the civil rights movement gained momentum, many leaders experienced immense challenges both privately and publicly. Many of these challenges included attacks on their lives and family wellbeing with the hopes of crumbling their character and undermining their integrity.  In this discussion, the panelist will share essential lessons on leading with character and integrity in advancing the movement. The panelist will also highlight the leadership impact of Black Greek Letter Organizations.

Moderator: Dr. Michael Chikeleze

Panelists: Dr. Robert Mock Jr., Beverly White


5:30 PM Lessons From the Movement

Keynote: Dr. Molefi Kete Asante

Professor & Chair of African American Studies at Temple University

7:00 (1hr) Lessons From our History: Viewing of  “From Sundown to Sunrise.”

Trace one man’s journey from sundown to sunrise as he and his family integrate an all-white Indiana town in 1968. By breaking the color barrier, they also helped transform the town and place it on a trajectory of inclusion.

10 (1hr) Celebrate (Virtually)

Speaker: Pastor Lawrence Rodgers, Minister of the Historic 2nd Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan

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