The University of Virginia is commemorating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a range of events to be held Jan. 15 through 31. Along with community partners, student groups and academic organizations, UVA’s Office for Diversity and Equity has planned activities including a keynote with Harry Belafonte on Jan. 24; two events on Jan. 25 recognizing Henry Martin, a former slave who was the University's bell-ringer for more than 50 years; and other speakers from the fields of law, medicine, business and history. Most of the events are free and open to the public. Jan. 16 is the federal holiday designated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which many organizations urge be dedicated to community service. UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said, "The University and local communities have put together a compelling program related to Dr. King's mission and contributions. We look forward to participating in these meaningful events." This year's opening speaker on Jan. 15 is five-term Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The celebration will also include a performance by a community choir. Belafonte, the legendary singer, actor and civil rights activist, will appear on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall with Julian Bond, a history professor in UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences and fellow civil rights activist. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5 p.m. and seating will be available first come, first served. Tickets are not required. Other activities include panel discussions; concerts; additional speakers, including Judy Martin-Holland on health care disparities; a play about Coretta Scott King on Jan. 20; and educational visits for youth, such as "Shadow a Health Professional Day" on Jan. 16.
The UVA community reclaims a higher Grounds, seeking to supplant images of angry torch-bearers with scenes of peace.