Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the “beloved community” as a nonviolent, just society where love and trust triumph over fear and hatred. In a year that has been filled with division, the 2022 MLK Week planning committee chose “Becoming the Beloved Community” as this year’s theme so we may explore ways to bridge the divide and work together to become the beloved community. Events and conversations throughout the week will honor Dr. King’s vision, offer direction, and challenge us to determine a better way forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week (MLK Week) at the U has become a platform to engage students, faculty, staff and community members in critical conversations around contemporary Civil Rights issues and race in America. MLK Week is planned by a volunteer committee of students, faculty, trainees and staff collaborating across the university. All are welcome to get involved and participate.
Morgan Aguilar: We are here to talk about MLK Week at the University of Utah, and our theme this year is “Becoming the Beloved Community.” We’re gonna talk all about that, but first, I want to make sure we introduce ourselves.
I’m Morgan Aguilar, communications specialist with University Marketing and Communication.
Pamela Bishop: I am Pamela Bishop. I’m the director of marketing and communications for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the university.
Gabi Sanchez-Jones: And I’m Gabi Sanchez-Jones, the manager of alumni clubs and diverse communities engagement at the University of Utah’s Alumni Relations office.
Morgan Aguilar: Thank you, and all three of us are on the planning committee for this year’s MLK Week. So we’re going to start with Pamela, who’s going to talk a little bit about how we chose the theme, “Becoming the Beloved Community.”
Pamela Bishop: Thank you, Morgan. Yeah, it really was, the theme “building,” “becoming — excuse me — the beloved community” really came from us observing what’s been going on in the country over the last 18 months to two years. Between the pandemic, between the racial unrest, the social injustices that have occurred, we really felt like this was a time to bring people back together.
Many people may know the term, “the beloved community,” from Dr. King, but it originally was, was made known by Josiah Royce who was a philosopher and a theologian, but Dr. King made it famous when he talked about a community where everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate.
And so we really felt like this is something that we really want to aspire to. This is what we want to become here at the university, and so it really, we thought it would be good for us to harken back to that for the theme. We also are tying into the work that’s being done at The King Center, this year, around the beloved community, and just to share what they’re doing on it.
They quote that “Dr. King’s love community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the beloved community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
And that’s what we want to talk about this MLK Week. How do we become that beloved community?
Morgan Aguilar: Yeah, thank you. And we have so many campus-wide events going on – community-wide events going on – to talk about how not just on campus we can become the beloved community, but also the larger Salt Lake and Utah-wide community.
So this year’s MLK Week is January 15 through the 21st. So it kicks off on a Saturday with the MLK Saturday Service Project hosted by our Bennion Center here at the U, and there are over 500 volunteer spots on campus, out in the community, or even self-directed, so definitely check those out.
And then on MLK Jr. Day, on Monday, January 17th, that’s when we have our MLK Day Rally and March. So, it’s back after we weren’t able to host it last year, we’re really excited to see everybody for that event, again, this year, and we’re gonna start at East High and then end at Kingsbury Hall. And as I’m going through these, obviously these details are all online, so we can check those out later.
We have some panels on Tuesday and Wednesday that week, one is on becoming the beloved community. We’re going to be talking about Alberta Henry and Black life in Salt Lake. Alberta Henry was a Civil Rights activist, educator, and community leader here in Salt Lake, and she served as president of the NAACP. Then on Wednesday, that’s a Reframing the Conversation panel. That one is going to be really cool. It’s 2045: Toward a More Diverse Future. Definitely recommend checking that one out. Then there’s also going to be a film screening and discussion on “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” Wednesday night and an Evening with the Arts on Tuesday.
On Thursday, January 20, that’s going to be the book review with Deans Elizabeth Warner and Martell Teasley. And the book they’ll be reviewing is called “Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm,” and that’s by Dr. Robin D’Angelo. So it’s really about how a culture of niceness inadvertently promotes racism. I think it’s going to be really good.
Then, on the last day of the week Friday, January 21, our keynote will be there, and also on the 21st, we have our MLK Youth Leadership Awards. I’m gonna swing it over to Gabi to tell us a little bit more about that.
Gabi Sanchez-Jones: Thank you. We’re so excited to be continuing to host this award. I don’t know how many people know this, but the MLK Youth Leadership Award has been at the University of Utah as long as MLK Week has been. And it was really started by a group of community members, faculty, and staff members who wanted to honor the younger students in our community, grades 7th through 12th, who were really using their time to be advocates in their community and honor the legacy of Dr. King through their actions and their work.
And so, the Alumni Relations office has been partnering with our community members, and we are so excited this year to be honoring our awardees with a scholarship component as well, which is the first time that we’ve been able to do this.
So we have been accepting nominations all throughout the fall and we are pleased to report that we have a wonderful group of students who we will be using a community, faculty, staff, alumni-based, kind of a mixed group of selection committee members to review applications. And we will be awarding up to four high school seniors with tuition scholarships to the University of Utah for the next academic year, and we are just so thrilled to be bringing some amazing students here to the university.
I will also mention that this scholarship is funded by the U Alumni Scholarship Fund, which is housed in the Alumni Relations office. So if you or any other community members are interested in continuing to support this scholarship, I encourage you to make a donation to the Alumni Scholarship Fund and mention that it’s for the MLK Youth Leadership Award because we will be continuing this scholarship from this year moving forward.
You can do this a couple of different ways. You can donate online to the University of Utah’s Alumni website, or you can also get a University of Utah Alumni license plate at the DMV, and those fees go directly to our scholarship funds.
So when you see those U license plates out on the street, all of those funds come to our scholarship fund, which are allocated not only to the Youth Leadership Award but to many different wonderful scholarships at the University of Utah.
Morgan Aguilar: Awesome. Thanks, Gabi. It’s an exciting addition, I think, to MLK Week here at the U to provide those scholarships for students.
So again for everybody watching, details on MLK Week, and all these events and registration links for some of those virtual and hybrid events, are going to be at diversity.utah.edu/mlk. And I also encourage you to follow EDI on social media @uofuedi. You’ll find updates on MLK Week events, but also much more that the division for EDI is doing. Thank you.
Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications