Bernice King to deliver keynote at Thursday’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

Grace Davies, Staff Reporter

Kent State’s week-long Martin Luther King Jr. celebration kicks off Monday, and Bernice King will serve as the keynote speaker for the annual event Thursday.

This year’s events run from Monday to Friday.

King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., will speak in the Student Center Ballroom at 5:30 p.m. She is a lawyer and the president of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which was founded by her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 1968.

The speech sold out its entire in-person capacity, however it will simultaneously be live-streamed. 

Other events throughout the week include interactive murals, group meals and a seminar on health issues facing Black LGBTQ+ people in Summit County.

The interactive mural event, sponsored by CCI diversity, will feature a traveling mural to encourage students to “draw or write down what an ideal world looks like for BIPOC communities.”

The seminar on health issues facing Black LGBTQ+ people will be held virtually on Microsoft teams and will contain information on mental health, disabilities and experiences of abuse and discrimination.

Shana Lee, assistant dean of students and director of Parents and Family engagement, is the former chair for the MLK celebration. Today, she works on the committee for advertising and collection.

“[In the past] we were just the conduit[s] in terms of collecting the information,” she said, “putting the call out there and helping answer questions individuals have about who to program with, how to program, what are some ideas and then actually pulling that all together to build out a calendar of events.”

Compared to previous years, this committee is sponsoring their own program.

Lee hopes that attendees will be reminded that the mission of diversity shouldn’t end with one week of celebration.

“The work is never done,” she said. “Coming up with and finding ways to take personal ownership of that and taking nuggets away in terms of how we can improve our communities […] to understand that regardless of the walks of life that people come from, that we take the time to understand, recognize and hear them and, and treat them like they’re our brethren.”

See the university’s full schedule of events here.

Grace Davies is a staff reporter. Contact her at [email protected].