Unity@Union march highlights celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Publication Date

To mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act, the campus community is invited to participate in a Unity@Union march on Monday, Jan. 20.

The event is part of the College’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Series.

Participants are asked to line up at 12:45 p.m. in front of Schaffer Library. At 1 p.m., marchers will circle the Nott Memorial and Rugby Field. Afterwards, marchers are invited inside the Nott to view a community-wide video recreating King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

In 2012, faculty, staff and students were invited to the Nott Memorial to read lines from the iconic 17-minute speech King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 28, 1963. The speech, in which King called for racial equality and an end to discrimination, was a defining moment in the civil rights movement. That speech and other demonstrations led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that make it illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace, housing and public accommodation.

Local students will also be paired up with Union students to engage in a community service project. To volunteer, email volunteer@union.edu.

One of the organizers of the march on Washington where King gave his historic speech was U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Lewis, a 13-term congressman from Atlanta and the last surviving speaker from the march, was the featured speaker at Union’s 219 commencement last June. Each year, students in Melinda Lawson's class, The Civil Rights Movement, are assigned to read Lewis's autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. The book is also required reading for those who participate in the Civil Rights Public History Mini-term, a nine-city, seven-state tour following the path of the movement that Lawson, a senior lecturer in history, leads each December.

Other events are also planned to celebrate the legacy of King. These include:

Sunday, Jan. 19: Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir performance; 2:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church, State Street. With the Schenectady Human Rights Commission.

Tuesday, Jan. 21: "What Are the Threads of Religious Thought Woven Into the Civil Rights Movement?" A discussion of the role religious thinking played during the Civil Rights Era. 12:50pm, Unity Lounge, Reamer Campus Center 304.

Tuesday, Jan. 28: "From Prisoner to President: Celebrating the Life of Nelson Mandela." Join members of the campus community as we celebrate the life and contributions of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela. This program will include a panel discussion as well as student performances. 5 p.m., Nott Memorial.

Wednesday, Jan. 29: Civil Rights Mini-Term Presentations. Students who recently attended the Civil Rights mini-term will share their photos, stories and reactions to the trip. 12:50 p.m., Unity Lounge, Reamer Campus Center 304.

The events are sponsored by the offices of Campus Diversity, Multicultural Affairs and the Kenney Community Center.