UVU to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

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Past and present will meet this week at UVU during the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration week.

The campus will host keynote speaker Julian Bond, a civil rights activist, along with presentations, panels and a film Jan. 17 to 20.

William W. Cobb Jr, a UVU professor of history and the commemoration coordinator, said the events connect the historical efforts of King to making a commitment in the present.

“His call to us to continue the struggle for justice is just as alive today,” Cobb said. “We want to motivate students and community to continue the struggle for justice.”

The highlight of the week, speaker Julian Bond, has a long list of accomplishments relating to civil rights. He served as state senator 20 years, spent 10 years as national director of the NAACP and co-founded the Student Nonviolent coordinating committee during the 1960s which was involved in the civil rights movement.

“We want to connect Julian with university students all along the Wasatch so they can hear the message about what motivated him,” Cobb said.

The commemoration started in the mid ’90s as a small recognition of human rights day where the campus showed a video of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

“It was turned into a high-visability event,” Cobb said, “where the university  invited prominent speakers involved in civil rights in the past and present.”

Eventually the event grew into a week-long commemoration that includes speakers and student involvement.

A graduate in history and the assistant to the coordinator for the commemoration, Courtney Whelan, was involved in fundraising, collecting student papers, panels and guest speakers.

“The commemoration is really important,” Whelan said. “It celebrates not only a great man but also civil rights today.”

The multicultural chair for UVU student government, Benjamin Reichart, said he thought the events were important because of the opportunity for positive student involvement.

“Student’s voices can be heard,” Reichart said. “Students need to hear other students’ concerns and know what is happening in the community.”

He said the commemoration interested him because he enjoys civil engagement opportunities and loves hearing what others have to say.

Every event of the commemoration week is free and open to the public. Julian Bond will speak at 10 a.m. in the Sorensen Student Center on Thursday and the film “The Help” will show Tuesday at 7 p.m. Panels, papers, presentations and discussions will take place throughout the week. For more information visit uvu.edu/chss/mlk.

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