Western Oregon University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration serves both as a tradition and a reminder.
“It’s a tradition of celebrating and bringing the WOU community together to focus an incredible civil rights leader and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Malissa Larson.
Patrick Moser, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said the event is a reminder to ponder, “How far we have come due to MLK’s impact while reflecting on how far we still have to go.”
Students, staff and community members are invited to WOU’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative dinner. The annual event begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22 in the Werner University Center. The suggested donation is $5.
“This year’s celebration is special in that we have campus groups contributing to the program with performances by WOU Chambers Singers performing some of MLK Jr.’s favorite hymns and Rainbow Dance Theatre performing pieces in tribute to MLK Jr. and his contributions,” Moser said.
Rosario Peralta Cortez, an English writing specialist for Spanish speakers, said the top three winners of the MLK Student Essay Competition will read their essays.
“This year’s essays highlighted the hope students have in their ability to impact the communities they interact with daily,” Peralta Cortez said. “Common themes in the essays were serving others with love at the center and what we gain when we help others. They were deeply personal essays as students shared the hardships and challenges they had encountered and the ways that MLK’s words still resonate with them and push them to make the world a better place.”
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Tina Fuchs, said the event is a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together in unity to honor the civil rights leader’s work.
“It is so important to pay tribute to someone who worked so tirelessly to address the injustice many people experienced,” Fuchs said. “MLK was a trailblazer, a fighter and a person who influenced the advancement of civil rights in our country.”
Fuchs hopes guests will walk away from the event with an understanding of MLK Jr.’s impact on the world, adding he is a reminder of how one person’s work can make a difference.
Abby’s House Director Aislinn Addington said it’s critical people understand the significance of MLK Jr.’s work and vision, especially now “when civil rights are in jeopardy.”
“There are forces dedicated to keeping wide divisions between people,” Addington said. “It’s vital that we reflect on where we have been and learn from the leadership and wisdom of activists like MLK.”
Or in the words of MLK Jr., “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Visit MLK Jr. Celebration to learn more about the dinner and get a ticket to the dinner before they are sold out.