Central College News

Central College to Host an MLK Day Program

Featured: Central College to Host an MLK Day Program

January 3, 2024

Central College will launch into the Spring 2024 semester with a full day of programming to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day on campus. The community is invited to attend events beginning at 9:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 15, in Douwstra Auditorium.

“This year’s MLK Day was collaboratively planned and put together by faculty and students,” explains Noemi Vega, Class of 2025 communication studies and sociology major from Osceola, Iowa. “The opinions and voices of Central students were included to create an alternate day of learning that pays respect to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and promotes continued growth.”

“MLK’s legacy touches all of us and that can be seen in the excellent breadth of programs across disciplines represented in the academic sessions,” says Paulina Mena, professor of biology and faculty fellow for diversity and inclusion. “Students, faculty, staff and the community will find a variety of stimulating sessions to attend.”

The programming begins with a welcome by Emma Carter, Class of 2027 undeclared major from Hazelwood, Missouri. Winona Van Berkum, Class of 2026 kinesiology major from Pella, Iowa, will give the land acknowledgment. The opening session will be “Liberation & Love: Spoken Word Poetry” with Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey. He will share his life, lessons and love through his captivating, powerful poetry. Having grown up in the Midwest and traveled the country performing his work, he will bring his experiences to the stage in a way that helps all understand how liberation and love belong in our lives.

“Caleb Rainey was recommended by students as this year’s speaker in appreciation of his poetry performances and presentations last year sponsored by Student Development,” says Shelley Bradfield, associate professor of communication studies. “His transparent focus on what it means to be a Black man in a white world is sobering and motivating, especially as we celebrate the contributions of Black people in the U.S. on this day.”

Concurrent sessions will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. across campus. A complete schedule is available on Central’s website. The academic sessions can help students learn about MLK’s speeches, activism and the impact he has had on advancing the rights of African Americans. Additionally, students will have a choice in the academic sessions they attend based on their interests and majors. Students will also have a service opportunity.

The day will conclude with a panel of students from minoritized groups. “Silent or Silenced: Black Student Experience at Central College” will give a personal glimpse into the lives of marginalized populations on campus.

“Students in the social justice studies minor, many of whom have been minoritized, have thoughtfully organized the programming for MLK Day,” Bradfield says. “This sets a precedent for students initiating inspiring programming and that addresses the experience of attending college at a predominantly white institution. Students who identify as Black will close the programming by reflecting on their experiences at Central and suggest ways for the institution to take responsibility for welcoming people from diverse identity positions and cultural backgrounds.”