St. Olaf to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with series of events

Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) Executive Director Andrew Williams will speak on campus January 15.

St. Olaf College will celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of events January 15 centered on the theme “Bridging the Gap, Catching the Dream.”

The events, hosted by the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE), will begin at 10:10 a.m. with a chapel talk by Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) Executive Director Andrew Williams. The chapel service will also feature a special performance by the St. Olaf Gospel Choir, conducted by Paulo Gladney ’19.

Williams will speak again later in the day as he offers a public lecture titled “Epistemologies of Healing: Race, Reconciliation, and Radical Hope in Higher Education” in the Sun and Gold Ballrooms in Buntrock Commons. There will be a reception with Williams from 3:30 to 4 p.m., and then he will speak and answer questions from 4 to 5 p.m. The lecture will also be live streamed and archived online.

In his lecture, Williams will challenge common notions of colleges and universities as open, liberal, and tolerant spaces and argue that racism is deeply entrenched in higher education policies, practices, discourses, and epistemologies. Therefore, that racism is often invisible to those who share cultural and institutional power. He will look at past and present waves of student color activism to map a path forward toward reconciliation, individual and collective healing, transformative justice, and the decolonization of higher education.

He believes that the path higher education chooses will have significant implications not just for college students, but also for our nation’s capacity to develop an authentic and vibrant multicultural democracy.

There will also be several other events on campus throughout the day.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., members of the campus community are invited to a poster-making session in the Buntrock Crossroads focused on the theme “To Engage and Empower.” Participants can use provided materials to express what the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations mean to them. The posters they create will first be displayed in Buntrock Commons and later in a campus hallway.

From 12 to 1 p.m., a student-faculty panel will discuss “Inclusivity and Excellence in the Classroom” in the the Valhalla Room in Buntrock Commons. Those interested in joining the discussion are welcome to bring their cafeteria trays.

The day will conclude with a spoken word event from 7 to 8 p.m. titled “Still I Rise,” hosted by the Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE) in the Lion’s Lair in Buntrock Commons.