Martin Luther King Jr Day event helps students understand struggle for civil rights

Turn the clock back fifty years.

The country is in the midst of political, and social turmoil and change is in the air, for better or worse.

The Civil Rights Movement is in full swing, and central to the social revolution is a minister from Alabama named Martin Luther King, Jr.

And like the rest of the country, Union halts every third Monday of January to remember this man. Classes will be cancelled, and for some students, it may be easy to forget the reason for the day off. Two professors, Chris Blake, associate professor of English and communication; and Dr. Mark Robison, professor of English; want to make sure that this day doesn’t just slip by unnoticed.

The two have designed a program, scheduled for Monday at 7:00 p.m. in Woods Auditorium, to help students feel the atmosphere of the country fifty years ago. The interactive event will include a performance by the cast of Fifty Years Later, Union’s spring drama production, and group activities led by Blake’s Conflict and Peacemaking class.

“We want to take students back to the 60s to have a deeper understanding of what Martin Luther King stood for,” said Robison. “Our objective is to go past his I Have a Dream speech and deeper into his vast—and surprising—body of work.”

“There will be singing, a Martin Luther King Jr actor, snacks and thought provoking activities,” said Blake. Students will build a puzzle with King’s I Have a Dream Speech and play Walk the Line, a game focused on learning to understand differences and commonalities and how language affects each of us.

For Robison, this program is an opportunity to open students’ eyes to their potential for change today. “I want them to realize that MLK wouldn’t be MLK without college-age students,” said Robison. “Often, they were the ones leading the demonstrations and the catalyst for King to act and even stretch him to do things that he might otherwise be uncomfortable doing.” 

Woods Auditorium is located on the north end of the Don Love Building. Enter Union College at 52nd and Cooper and park in the parking area behind the Love Building. The program is free and open to the public.