St. Olaf to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with ‘It Starts With Me’ events
St. Olaf College will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by hosting a series of “It Starts With Me” events January 11 and 15 that will provide opportunities to reflect on the renowned civil rights leader’s work and the steps individuals can take to push that work forward.
“We are called each year to reflect on the life and work of Dr. King. It’s important to look at his whole work, as many people take bits and pieces of his work and build their opinion on that,” says Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion Director Martin Olague ’04. “Dr. King was a complex individual whose full message was more radical than we give him credit for — the idea that love will prevail.”
On Thursday, January 11, the Taylor Center will host a keynote address by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of History Jaden Janak, with additional addresses by Olague and a student speaker. This event, which will begin at 5 p.m. in the Sun Ballroom, will also feature a performance by the St. Olaf Jazz ensembles directed by Joseph Jefferson.
Janak says his keynote address will focus on King’s “Beloved Community” and what that means for those at St. Olaf living in the 21st century. “Often Dr. King gets reduced to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, and his many years as a radical organizer are forgotten. I want to focus on King’s later years — his turn away from assimilationist tendencies and towards radical change,” Janak says.
“Often Dr. King gets reduced to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, and his many years as a radical organizer are forgotten. I want to focus on King’s later years — his turn away from assimilationist tendencies and towards radical change.”Assistant Professor of History Jaden Janak
On Monday, January 15, St. Olaf will honor and recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday by not holding classes and making the day a holiday for staff, faculty, and students. The Taylor Center will host a brunch for St. Olaf students at 10:30 a.m. in the Valhalla Room in Buntrock Commons.
“As Dr. King would tell you, ‘If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’ Each one of us can do the work to help continually move everything forward. It’s important to do the readings, learn, grow, so we can help push this work ahead,” Olague says.
Additional ways that St. Olaf community members can celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day include:
- The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast in Minneapolis. This year’s event, titled Leading Onward: Elevating New Voices For Justice And Equality,” will feature a keynote address by Marley Dias.
- The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. This year’s keynote speaker is Verna Cornelia Price, the co-founder and president of The Power of People Leadership Institute.