MLK Celebration

Lessons from the Movement

As America has just moved past the crossroads of another election, witnessed a stress-induced transition of power, and is still struggling to overcome our contribution to this global pandemic, it is true now more than ever that we cannot rest on social satisfaction of the current civic victories. To stop pressing to change and address the issues of racism, poverty, and violence against the most vulnerable in the American context would be to dishonor and destroy the fragile handles of democracy that we painstakingly seized these last few years. Dr. King put it in these words, “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” If the current experiment in American democracy is to become a shared reality for all who call this land home but have been neglected of its warmth, the current generation must take the lessons of the movements that came before and integrate them with the tools, passion, and power of contemporary movements to produce a lifesaving injection of hope, truth, and love into the soul of America. 

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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