MLK Awareness Week 2017: The Fierce Urgency of Now
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 United States, as well as 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.
At UMass Lowell, we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. by providing a full week of educational and enjoyable 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. In past years, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) has collaborated with elementary and middle schools. In 2018, students at Stoklosa Middle School had a chance to submit poems emulating the MLK Week theme of the year. This year, OMA also worked with Refuge Lowell, an art center that assists children and teens in developing their creativity and compiling a portfolio for art school applications, and St. Patrick's School of Lowell to create the art pieces for our Annual MLK Week Dinner at University Crossing.
Homes lay in ruin as seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter during a flyover of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Following Hurricane Maria, the agricultural sector of Puerto Rico lost 80% of its crops. For this reason, OMA will be collecting non-GMO seeds for this year’s MLK Community Service initiative in support of the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. Seeds collected by our campus community will be sent to the Puerto Rico Resiliency Fund which is working on re-growing Puerto Rico’s food supply through collaborative efforts. Seeds collected will be distributed for food production in communities, schools and small-scale market farm production. Recommended seed donations should be non-GMO, heat tolerant, nutritionally dense crops, fast growing, low maintenance, pest or disease resistant, and easy to save, in order to guarantee their continuous production. Seeds requested include:
View a complete list of seeds.
Learn more on the UMass Lowell Puerto Rico Support & Relief Efforts website.
Each year, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Service Awards are presented to University of Massachusetts 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.
From left: Fang Zhang (Student Award Recipient), Ruby Carnavale (Staff Award Recipient), Phitsmay Uy (Faculty Award Recipient), Gordon Halm (Executive Director of the African Community Center of Lowell, Group Award Recipient)
Phitsamay Uy is an Associate Professor of Leadership in Schooling in the College of Education and the Co-Director of the Center for Asian American Studies. She provides professional development workshops to teachers and educators on cultural competency and responsiveness. As she worked closely with educators on ways to teach students from Southeast Asian communities, she recognized the lack of relevant teaching materials available to the teachers. As an initiative to begin to correct this problem, she requested funding and along with a colleague created a children’s book that teachers could use and read to their students in their classroom. She met with elders from the Southeast Asian communities to collect stories and folktales. As a result a children’s book was created. Her efforts allowed teachers the opportunity to not only learn themselves but create an inclusive and welcoming environment for their students.
Ruby Carnevale is the Director of Employment Services and a member of the Human Resources/Equal Opportunity Office leadership team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In each and every employment search, she takes the time necessary, both with committees and hiring managers, to teach, inform and support them to insure that priorities of hiring the most qualified and diverse work force. She emphasizes that this commitment is the responsibility of everyone at UMass Lowell. She challenges folks when necessary, supports and guides when appropriate, creatively explores avenues and options to increase diversity in candidate pools in a manner that is understood and appreciated. Ruby continually forges relationships and understandings of the truest goals of the dignity, value and potential of all candidates and the University’s Blueprint towards an Inclusive and Global Community
The African Community Center of Lowell was established in October, 2016 with the goal of promoting responsible citizenship by improving the quality of life and supporting the achievement of African immigrants, refugees, and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, social, and cultural initiatives. The organization’s members have demonstrated unwavering and sustained commitment to community engagement and community service, often working with the most vulnerable and marginalized migrant families in our community. Although these accomplishments are exemplary in their own right, what distinguishes them is the fact that all of these were achieved in the absence of any regular funding. Under the direction of founder and Executive Director Gordon Halm, an alumnus of the Peace and Conflict Studies Masters at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Center hopes to continue to make a difference in the lives of immigrants and the city of Lowell at large.
Fang Zhang is a doctoral student studying Chemistry and Bio Chemistry in the Kennedy College of Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. After 5 years studying and living in Lowell, he loves our campus and truly appreciates the environment where he can study and live with equal rights and opportunities. Even as a Ph.D. student, he continued to dedicate his free time and participate in many campus efforts including: Student Alumni Ambassadors, The Graduate Student Association, and the Pair Up Program. The nominee’s commitment to student service is reflective of their life’s blueprint, which is to make a positive impact and creating unity in the community. He also shows this in his volunteer experiences in our community outside of campus. Fang has been involved in different community services including volunteering for Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, Mass., serving food for less fortunate people on Friday nights; volunteering for Matthew 25, a program based in Worcester, Mass. to build affordable houses for low-income families and volunteering for soup making & serving for Living Water Center of Hope in Lowell.
Watch video of the 2016 MLK celebration!
Contact Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs Francine Coston by email at: Francine_Coston@uml.edu.
To see pictures from our 2017 MLK ceremony, please visit our Facebook Page.
Watch our 2016 community collaboration with Murkland Elementary: Lenses of Civil Right: Intersections of Struggle and Progress.