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Events honor Martin Luther King Day

Liz Harter | Monday, January 21, 2008

The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is nationally recognized once a year with many employers canceling work and television stations broadcasting King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. Today, classes at Notre Dame continue, but activities throughout the week will celebrate the activist’s life 40 years after his assassination.

While there have been Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities in the past, events are more visible on campus this year.

“I don’t think that there are more or less events this year for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,” said Lai-nin Wan, chair of the Student Senate Multicultural Affairs Committee. “I think they’re simply just a lot better advertised.”

Wan said her committee is actively working to advertise the events they planned for today. The committee chose community service as a way to do something for the South Bend community in the name of King, Wan said.

“[King] in many ways symbolized togetherness and emphasized the importance of growing together as a community,” she said.

Events range from a letter writing campaign for the troops overseas through the A Million Thanks organization and terminally ill children through the Make a Child Smile organization to setting up Valentine’s Day decorations and playing Bingo with residents at the Healthwin Specialized Care Center in downtown South Bend.

The community centers that will be receiving aid from students are those that expressed an interest in working with the committee.

“This is the first year we’re going to have this day of service, but it has been received really well, so I’m hoping that the chair next year will carry on this new tradition,” Wan said.

There will also be an all-campus prayer service in the rotunda of the Main Building at 12:30 p.m. at which University President Father John Jenkins and Hugh Page, dean of the University First Year of Studies, will offer prayers and reflections on the life of King.

“The prayer service is something we’ve brought back,” Wan said. “This is something we used to do back in the 90s, but haven’t done in a while.”

The University will also honor King on Wednesday and Saturday.

Pastors and other local faith leaders will participate in an hour-long ecumenical service including scripture readings, a sermon, prayers for unity and a performance by the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir and the Celebration Choir Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A reception hosted by Campus Ministry will follow the prayer service in the Coleman-Morse Center.

The Multicultural Affairs Committee is planning a day of community service Saturday to celebrate the day because so many people will be in classes during the events taking place today.

Everyone who participates in that event will receive a free T-shirt and be invited to attend a reception with University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh.

“We’re excited about making [this event] successful so it can happen again in the future,” Wan said.

As of Sunday, 68 students had signed up for the events that Wan and her committee organized off campus. Anyone can participate in the letter writing campaigns taking place from 12 p.m. to 4 in the Sorin Room in LaFortune.