Walk the Walk Week celebrates MLK Day, brings civil rights leader to campus
Renee Pierson | Friday, January 17, 2020
Notre Dame’s annual Walk the Walk Week, an event week honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day and aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, will commence Monday. Civil rights leader Diane Nash will deliver the keynote address of Walk the Walk Week’s flagship event, the MLK Celebration Luncheon. The week will also include lectures, discussions and religious services, among other events.
Ann Firth, vice president and chief of staff, held a leading role programming the events.
“The week commences with a late-night candlelight prayer service in the Main Building Rotunda on the eve of MLK Day, which has become a cherished tradition on our campus,” Firth said in an email.
Student body president Elizabeth Boyle emphasized the inaugural event’s intention to unify the campus.
“The candlelight prayer service will take place at 11 p.m., beginning in the Main Building where the Notre Dame community will come together, led by campus leaders and Voices of Faith, to join in song and prayer to commemorate the life of Dr. King,” she said in an email.
Students can find more information about the prayer service on its Facebook event page.
“There are a wide array of events planned for rest of Walk the Walk Week, designed to offer each of us the opportunity to consider how we — both individually and collectively — might take a more active role in making Notre Dame even more welcoming and inclusive,” Firth said in the email.
Students and faculty are invited to attend all of the events taking place. “Let’s Talk About Race,” an open conversation about identity, will take place Monday in 7 p.m. Geddes Hall. The Social Concerns Fair, which begins 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Dahnke Ballroom, will allow students to explore a variety of local volunteer opportunities. A panel discussion Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium will invite speakers from Notre Dame and South Bend to discuss reparation and reconciliation.
A comprehensive list of events can be found on Walk the Walk Week’s website.
The MLK Celebration Luncheon will take place Monday at 11:30 a.m. in the Joyce Center. Nash, a renowned civil rights leader, will be the event’s keynote speaker.
“This year’s luncheon conversation will be very special, as Nash is a historic figure who took great risks and worked tirelessly to advance the cause of justice and equality in our nation,” Firth said in the email.
Nash has long been a leading figure in the civil rights movement, Firth said.
“[Nash] became active in the civil rights movement while she was a student at Fisk University in Nashville,” Firth said. “By the time she was 22, she was part of the Freedom Riders and had co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Nash worked closely with Dr. King and played a pivotal role in the Selma Voting Rights Movement.”
Campus leaders anticipate attendance at these events will help foster a spirit of inclusivity in each individual, Boyle said.
“If we are to truly consider ourselves an inclusive, diverse and Catholic community then it is imperative that we show up for the events during Walk the Walk week — and especially beyond this week,” Boyle said in the email. “I hope that each community member engages with at least two of the events during the week, whether that be the prayer service, luncheon, ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ series, a Mass or a lecture or even in a more informal way by having a deep conversation about inclusivity and what it means to be a member of the Notre Dame community with a friend, professor or roommate.”
Firth said Notre Dame’s commitment to building a more diverse campus community is at the root of Walk the Walk Week.
“Fr. Jenkins has articulated core principles for the University with regard to diversity and inclusion: respecting the dignity of every person, building a Notre Dame community where all flourish and living in solidarity with all — particularly the most vulnerable, both here on campus and beyond,” Firth said. “Attending events during Walk the Walk Week is, of course, just one way to do this.”