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MLK Week

Martin Luther King Jr. Awareness Week

2019 MLK Art Collaborations

Born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, civil-rights activist, and an advocate for race relations in the United States. Through King's activism and inspirational speeches, he played an essential role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the U.S., as well as spurring the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968 and continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspirational African-American leaders in history.

2018 MLK Awards: Refuge Lowell art project

At UMass Lowell, we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. through events centered on community action, engagement, and social justice awareness. This week occurs at the end of January leading into Black History Month in February. The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) has collaborated annually with local elementary and middle schools such as Stoklosa Middle School students who submitted poetry encompassing the MLK Week theme.  Refuge Lowell, an art center that assists children and teens in developing their creativity and compiling a portfolio for art school applications provided beautiful pieces of art along with St. Patrick's School who created art pieces for our Annual MLK Week Dinner. 

In addition, we also offered events and programming throughout the week relating to MLK such as:

  • Faculty/Staff Social
  • Community Service Event
  • MLK Dinner

8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Service Awards

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Service Awards are presented to UMass Lowell faculty, staff, and students, and to community members of the City of Lowell during the annual MLK Dinner. These awards honor the contributions of individuals who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to social change, service and community engagement. Nominees should exemplify the dream, vision and work of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Distinguished Service Award Winners Timeline

From left, UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center Director Peter Murray; Maritza Grooms and Masada Jones, founders of The Kindred Project; and Edna Hirt, a Psychology major, and Honors College student. Professor Sue J. Kim, co-director of UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies, was also honored for promoting inclusivity in Lowell's neighborhoods.

From left, UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center Director Peter Murray; Maritza Grooms and Masada Jones, founders of The Kindred Project; and Edna Hirt, a Psychology major, and Honors College student. Professor Sue J. Kim, co-director of UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies, was also honored for promoting inclusivity in Lowell's neighborhoods.

MLK 2019

Staff: Peter Murray 

Peter is the mastermind behind the Inclusive Campus Team, made up of students and professional staff that help facilitate different trainings, look closely at their policies, and work in tandem with other groups on campus to make everyone to welcome. This team worked closely with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to develop and start up their student staff to complete Diversity Peer Education training. This has helped the student staff to be more inclusive, learn about themselves and others. Infusing diversity and inclusion into their department, pushing the department to do their best and giving full effort in everything they do. As he dreams, imagines and acts, Peter has made an impact to the UMass Lowell Community for the better and has made the commitment to social justice and change.

Faculty: Sue J. Kim

Sue had provided continued support to disenfranchised community members through her work with a progressive group called Solidarity Lowell. This group was created in hopes of organizing actions and a safe space for those who feel the most threatened in Lowell and beyond. They have organized and worked together to fight back against the tide of hate, discrimination, and the destruction of the fabric of our democracy. She uses her skills in social media to help educate and connect people who are impacted with different resources to help protect them. Through the creation of the Southeast Asian Digital Archive (SEADA), the Southeast Asian collective, narrative, history, and arts has been solidified and immortalized into UMass so that future generations of Southeast Asian students, scholars, and community members can learn about this community.

Student: Edina Hirt

Edina continuously displays a commitment to and passion for community service. When asked to complete 30 hours of community service for a class requirement, she asked permission to increase her hours so that she could split her work between three different sites, the first and only student in the history of the course to ask to do so. At the end of the semester, supervisors from all 3 sites reported on how valuable her work was to them, praising her creativity, networking abilities, and strong work ethic. After this experience, she also decided to create a community service volunteer web app - newly named "Community Connections," which will help UMass Lowell students, faculty, and staff connect with community organizations in a much more efficient and timely manner, increasing the impact of community service projects and elevating UMass Lowell's ability to "give back" to the Lowell community in a substantial and meaningful way. The app will be housed on the university's website

Community Organization: The Kindred Project

The Kindred Project is a grassroots organization formed in 2016 with the mission of creating visible community for Black people in Lowell. Under the direction of founders Masada Jones and Maritza Grooms, the Project has hosted events in the city such as "Courageous Conversations: Why Talking About Race is Important," "Your City Saturdays: Community Connections," and, more recently, a series of Melanin Meetups that serve as networking events and spaces where people of color can show up and exist fully and celebrate their cultures.

See past winners.


Contact Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs Francine Coston by email at:

To see pictures from our 2019 MLK ceremony, please visit our Facebook page.

Watch our 2016 community collaboration with Murkland Elementary: "Lenses of Civil Right: Intersections of Struggle and Progress."

Previous Collaborations

Watch the video of the 2017 MLK celebration!

Enjoy this video highlighting previous collaborations that produced the art featured during our Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Service Awards Dinners!