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Week of Events Honor MLK's Life, Work


Programs Focus on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ The life, work and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be commemorated during a week of events at UMass Lowell for students and the public.

“I Am Because We Are: A Week of Reflection, Remembrance and Celebration” will be held from Monday, Jan. 25 through Friday, Jan. 29. Timed to coincide with the return of students to campus for the spring semester, the free programs are being presented by UMass Lowell’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Highlights include an appearance by Kevin Powell, a star of the first season of MTV’s “The Real World” who has gone on to become a civil rights activist, author and entrepreneur and was a 2008 Congressional candidate in New York. Powell will be the keynote speaker at “Pop Culture and Civil Rights Today” on Thursday, Jan. 28.
The theme for the week comes from an idea present in African spirituality called “Ubuntu,” which means “I am because we are,” said Jaime Nolan-Andrino, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “This concept reminds us that we are all connected, that we cannot be ourselves without community.”

 Scheduled events include:

  • Monday, Jan. 25 ߝ “I Am Because We Are” spoken word/open mic at 8 p.m. the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell;
  • Wednesday, Jan. 27 ߝ Day of Service with local organizations and community lunch/discussion with Prof. Robert Forrant on “MLK and Education and Access” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cumnock Hall, UML North, One University Ave., Lowell;
  • Wednesday, Jan. 27 ߝ The program, “The History of the ‘N’ Word,” facilitated by Associate Director of Residence Life David Jones, will screen a film clip by Jonathan McCoy followed by discussion about why the word should not be used, 7 to 9 p.m. at Alumni Hall, UML North, 84 University Ave., Lowell;
  • Thursday, Jan. 28 ߝ “Pop Culture and Civil Rights Today,” featuring Powell, at 6 p.m. at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell;
  • Friday, Jan. 29 ߝ “The Privilege Line,” an activity facilitated by Nolan-Andrino that looks at whether there is really a “level playing field” in the United States, will be presented at 1 and 3 p.m. at the UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center, UML East, One Pawtucket St., Lowell.

The week of programs was developed by a planning committee of faculty and staff from across UMass Lowell. Building successful partnerships like that one is a key component in continuing to build a more diverse and inclusive university, according to Pascha McTyson, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

“We look to developing the work we do with the campus through the larger efforts and vision of fostering an inclusive community,” said Nolan-Andrino. “That way, what we do isn’t diversity as simply ‘add and stir.’ Instead, the work of diversity and inclusion are a consistent thread woven into the entire fabric of our institution.”

The day of service on Jan. 27 will be a key component of the week and students will be offered a variety of options where they can volunteer in the community, said Nolan-Andrino.

“Dr. King has always served as a powerful reminder of the imperative for giving back. As such, it is fitting that, as a part of our commemoration of his life and work, we would have a day of service,” she said.
Organizations that will be providing opportunities for community service include the Lowell Alliance for Families and Neighborhoods, Lowell Association for the Blind, Lowell Transitional Living Center and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. 

Organizers hope that opening the spring semester with a week of programs celebrating King will become a tradition, said Jones, who is also a member of the planning committee.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ As we move forward, it is most important that we centralize our thinking and approach with the vision and legacy Dr. King provided. The programs and events offered this week will be a testament to the work and commitment to which our university community is dedicated,” Jones said.

For more information or to attend the events, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at 978-934-4336.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. .

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224