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UNC plans MLK Day banquet and lectures on campus next week

A student sits under the shade of a tree in Polk Place on Nov. 9 2021.

UPDATE 01/16/2022: Due to weather that will impact the safety of live performers and speakers, the MLK University/Community Banquet has been postponed. Check the University Office of Diversity and Inclusion website for rescheduling updates.

The MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony has been moved from Jan. 19 to Feb. 22 due to COVID-19 concerns.

Next Monday, Jan. 17, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday commemorating the civil rights leader's birthday.

Here are some events happening on campus next week to honor and celebrate his legacy.

MLK Memorial Banquet

On Jan. 16, the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion is hosting the 37th annual MLK University/Community Banquet.

The banquet includes a discussion from keynote speaker Elmira Mangum, who previously served as president of Florida A&M University and was the first woman to permanently hold the position. The event will also feature an award presentation of high school and college scholarships, the Bridge Builders Award and the Citizenship Award.  

Local musicians from the Triangle will be performing during the banquet. It starts at 6 p.m. and will be held virtually. Tickets can be purchased on the event's website.

In an email statement, Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion Leah Cox spoke to the significance of the events being held in honor of King. 

“This is a time for us all to come together, as faculty, staff and students, as well as community members, to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King,” Cox said. “... These are occasions for the entire Carolina Community to celebrate our own as they exemplify the sense of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging that Dr. King envisioned.”

MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony

The MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony will be held in-person on Jan. 19 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Great Hall.

The event will include a virtual lecture from keynote speaker LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. The MLK UNC Scholarship for UNC juniors and the MLK Unsung Hero Awards for two UNC community members or groups will also be presented at the ceremony.

"It’s important to continue to learn from leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion through our lectures and to share in our efforts to bringing social justice and service to our community," Cox said. "Carolina has proudly taken the lead in many of these efforts for over half a century."

Students can register for tickets online using their OneCard.

MLK Student Day of Service

Throughout the month of February, students can participate in the MLK Jr. Day Service Project by participating in a book drive and writing letters to incarcerated individuals.

The service project is hosted by the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Student Life & Leadership.

New or gently used books can be donated in boxes located in the Student Union or the SASB North lobby, and letters can be submitted online until Feb. 28.

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Other events include a screening of the movie "Just Mercy" on Jan. 17 and a capstone culture show on Jan. 21. The final dates and times for these events will be announced online.

"Participation in these bridge-building events brings our community together in a way that would make the activists in the Civil Rights Movement proud," Cox said.

If your organization is hosting an event for Martin Luther King Day, please email to have information added to this article. |