Emory to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy with King Week

Volunteers glean vegetables from the Oxford Organic Farm.
Volunteers glean vegetables from Oxford's Organic Farm as part of Oxford's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

King Week will feature lectures, discussions and community service opportunities that reflect Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for civil rights and social justice.

The Emory community will honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work with numerous activities in January. King Week will feature lectures, discussions and community service opportunities that reflect his vision for civil rights and social justice.

Campus events begin Monday, Jan. 20 — the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — with an invitation for students on Emory’s Atlanta and Oxford College campuses to join in a day of volunteer service.

The “Day On” event is organized through Volunteer Emory, a centralized hub for student service opportunities and social justice work. Atlanta campus participants will kick off the day at 11 a.m. in the Student Center, then travel in teams to help community organizations throughout Atlanta. Transportation to the community sites will be provided 

Registration for Atlanta-based projects opens a week in advance. This year’s community partners include the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe, Little Creek Farm, Lost-n-Found Youth and the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House.

“In total we will have 12 sites and are anticipating to engage around 200 Emory students,” says Johannes Kleiner, associate director of civic and community engagement for the Division of Campus Life.

Oxford College participants will meet in the new Oxford Student Center at 10 a.m. on Jan. 20. Their service opportunities will focus on three areas related to environmental sustainability: the Newton County trail system, the Oxford College organic farm and Best Friends Farm (a local animal rescue farm). Registration for Oxford College’s “Day On” is open.

Emory alumni also can get involved through service opportunities on Saturday, Jan. 18. The Caucus of Emory Black Alumni has partnered with two Atlanta organizations for the CEBA-Atlanta MLK Day of Service: the Hands On Atlanta Discovery Program and Books for Africa.

“On Emory’s Day On, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to creating a more just, inclusive and caring world and aim to honor his legacy through our own service,” Kleiner says. “We join the millions of people around the U.S. who commit to ‘A day on, not a day off’ and come together as a community at the beginning of the new semester to remind ourselves of the larger purpose of an Emory education.”

Here is the current schedule of other King Week activities, which are all free and open to the public. Several will include a pop-up exhibit featuring archival materials from Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

Tuesday, Jan. 21

King Week Keynote
4 p.m., Jones Room, Robert W. Woodruff Library

A lecture by Nikole Hannah-Jones, award-winning journalist and a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow for her reporting on education reform and racial re-segregation in schools, will be a highlight of Emory’s King Week events. She covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and is creator of the landmark 1619 Project commemorating the 400th year of slavery in what would become the United States. She has written extensively on the history of racism, school re-segregation and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders. The lecture is presented by Emory’s Department of African American Studies.

MLK Jr. Celebration at Oxford College
7:30 p.m., Old Church, Oxford

The celebration on the Oxford campus will include readings, music from a variety of choirs and a keynote address by Sonya Tinsley-Hook, Oxford’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar and founder of the All Our Strengths project. This event will honor 30 years of MLK Scholars at Oxford College and also kick off a semester’s worth of activities marking the 50th anniversary of African American graduates from Oxford College.

Wednesday, Jan. 22

Voter Rights Lecture
4:30 p.m., Jones Room, Robert W. Woodruff Library

Carol Anderson, chair of African American studies and Charles Howard Candler Professor African American Studies at Emory, will speak on “Voter Rights/Voter Suppression.” 

Thursday, Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards
4:30 p.m., Claudia Nance Rollins Auditorium, Rollins School of Public Health

For more than 20 years, Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and Goizueta Business School have honored King’s legacy through the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards. This year, Emory’s School of Medicine joins the partnership. The program theme is “Mobilizing for Justice, Advocating for Change” and the event features a fireside chat with DeKalb County Chief Superior Court Judge Asha F. Jackson. The program also recognizes members of the greater metro Atlanta community who envision solutions to inadequacies and have the courage to mobilize others to work for justice and to advocate for change during challenging times. Carol E. Henderson, Emory’s chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and inclusion, will moderate.

Emory Conversations Project: King’s Riverside Church Speech
5:30 p.m., Cox Ballroom

On April 4, 1967, King delivered a speech at the Riverside Church in New York critiquing the Vietnam War and the policies that created it: “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” Join the Emory Conversation Project for a reading of the speech and conversations about how it can inform our understanding of and response to more recent policies. 

MLK Celebration Lecture
6 p.m., Tull Auditorium, Emory University School of Law

Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and Raymond Pace & Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, will speak on “Dr. Martin Luther King’s Vision of Health and Justice.” Roberts is founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science and Society and is an internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual and social justice advocate. 

Friday, Jan. 24

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
10 a.m., Emory Student Center South, Recreation Lounge

Listen and reflect with community members throughout the day on King’s Riverside Church speech. 

Sunday, Jan. 26

Beloved Community: Christian Worship at Emory
11 a.m., Cannon Chapel

The worship service will feature singing from Voices of Inner Strength Gospel Choir and preaching by the Rev. Kim Jackson. She is a 2009 graduate of Candler School of Theology and currently serves as interim vicar at Church of the Common Ground in Atlanta. She is the first black LGBTQ+ priest ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and is running for Georgia State Senate.