Campus celebrates Martin Luther King

Drew Parker

Hillel at Kent State will honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with a dinner Friday evening and community service event Monday.

Hillel will host a dinner and Shabbat (Sabbath) in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Cohn Jewish Student Center Friday. Guests will have the opportunity to experience a Jewish Shabbat and a traditional kosher dinner. A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a 6 p.m. Shabbat and 6:45 dinner.

Hillel Engagement Manager Rebecca Meiser said the event will make people aware of the similarities between the Jewish community and those involved in the civil rights movement.

“Not a lot of people know that there were a lot of inter-relationships between Jews supporting the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King supporting Jews’ rights and the rights of Israel,” Meiser said.

Hillel will also host “Just For a Day,” a community service event to celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

During the event, participants will work with developmentally disabled children, visit Stow-Glen Retirement Village, assist at Kent State’s campus Kitchen, hand out food at Haven of Rest shelter in Akron and assist with various other community services in the Kent area.

Students will hear personal stories of resistance against segregation involving civil rights among the Jewish community.

“We think you should turn your day off into a day on,” Meiser said. “We hope it is a lasting experience that will encourage students to do more community service.”

Later in the month, Kent State will host a cultural celebration of word, music and dance in honor of Martin Luther King Jan. 26.

The celebration, themed “Empowering the Individual, Strengthening the Community,” will be from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Kiva, followed by a presentation of Trailblazer awards to the promotion of diversity and a keynote speech by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill at 2:10 p.m.

vHill, an associate professor of English Education and Anthropology at Columbia University, is known for his perspectives on sexuality, education, religion and hip-hop culture and has been featured on Fox News and NPR and in The Washington Post, Essence and The New York Times.

A signing of the book, “Beats, Rhymes and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity,” and reception will be held at 4 p.m. on the ballroom balcony. Hill’s book is now available for purchase at the Kent State University Bookstore.

Dr. Geraldine Hayes-Nelson, executive director of Diversity Programming and Community Outreach, said what Martin Luther King Jr. stood was in line with Kent State’s “you belong here” slogan.

“We all make up the fabric of Kent State,” Hayes-Nelson said. “We want an environment where everyone is welcomed, valued and respected.”

Hayes-Nelson said she believes in celebrating King’s life because he made a global impact with the civil rights movement.

“He called America into consciousness about basic human rights and inclusion,” Hayes-Nelson said. “Because we offer a liberal arts education at Kent State, we embrace and celebrate the differences that make the university what it is.”

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].