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MLK Jr. Celebration

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The WCU community gathers annually to celebrate and commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Our focus during the week long celebration is the concept of community. Dr. King once said, 'We know that to bring justice, love, and friendship, we must build strong communities that foster these things.' We encourage you to consider these words and your role in building a strong community here at WCU and beyond.

The 2020 celebration launched with an special screening of the movie Selma and the annual Unity March, and included days of service, events sponsored by student organizations, a keynote  speaker and NCBI training.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons, an internationally recognized civil rights leader, is the award-winning visionary founder of Asheville’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Prayer Breakfast and distinguished recipient of the national MLK Commission’s “Making of the King Holiday Award” presented to her by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Simmons speaks and teaches widely, inspiring audiences locally, nationally, and globally, about her journey in civil rights along a path of non-violence in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is currently working on a memoir based on her inspirational lectures about her life, titled Journey to Myself.

 A native of Western North Carolina, where she has been a pioneer in the civil rights movement since her school days, Ms. Simmons is founding president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County and former co-chair of the North Carolina State Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Commission. For her pioneering civil rights work in the early 1960s, especially for her singular and courageous role in integrating all-white Mars Hill College in 1961, Ms. Simmons first gained worldwide recognition when she was featured as a young leader in both Jet and Time magazines, and later was honored with Mrs. Coretta Scott King at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in 1990.

See photos of the week's events.

Celebration Events

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Movie Screening - SELMA
3:00pm and 6:00pm
Lazy Hiker Sylva Taproom

Picture of MLK Jr and the workds Selma from the movie Selma


The local NAACP hosted a special screening of the movie 'Selma' at the Lazy Hiker Sylva Taproom and Mad Batter Kitchen. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

MLK Days of Service
Various Times and Locations

students at tuck river cleanup

Students at recent Tuck River Clean Up

It was a day on, not a day off--Through the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning volunteers signed and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning took care of all the logistics! Available projects were at a variety of service sites, such as Catman2, the Cullowhee Community Garden, and more.



Photo of the MLK Jr. march 2020

MLK Jr March 2020

MLK Jr. Unity March
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Pre March Poster Making
10:00 - 11:00 am
UC Multipurpose Room

The march unified community leaders, faculty, staff, and students in efforts to live out the ideals and values that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held and believed in. The march began after a brief introduction that highlighted the history of the march.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

picture of two students at a speak and paint event


Let's Talk Colorism, BSU Speak and Paint
6:00 - 8:00 pm
UC Grandroom

While painting, students had the opportunity to hear from BSU on a very important topic that divides many students of color and keeps them from organizing and building strong communities based on cooperation and unity. This was a collaborative effort with student organizations on campus to develop a program that unifies students and allow them to join in the true spirit of MLK’s vision.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Dr. Oralene Simmons

Dr. Oralene Simmons

Keynote Speaker Dr. Oralene Simmons
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Bardo Performing Arts Center

Dr. Oralene Simmons gave a presentation using this year's theme “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy of Connection: The Story of U.S.”.




Thursday, January 23, 2020

Indivisible Not Invisible:
Focus on Mental Health for Poor, Marginalized, and People of Color
6:00 - 8:00 pm
UC Multipurpose Room

An exploration of individual and societal stigmas that are derived from bias. This program refocused the importance of mental health for marginalized students, faculty and staff.




Friday, January 24, 2020

NCBI Training
8:00am - 5:00 pm
Blue Ridge Conference

Since 1984, NCBI has conducted effective diversity programs on hundreds of college campuses. The National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) Campus Program is a premiere curriculum to deliver inclusion, social justice, and conflict resolution work on campuses of higher education. The program is unique in that it requires participants to begin exploring and knowing ones’ self as one engages in the efforts of social justice. The introspection required propels the work to be delivered in an authentic and personal way. NCBI is a great resource in the tool belt of our skill sets. In this day of uncertainty and changing landscapes on the international, national, regional, and local levels, the NCBI program is needed more than ever on our college campuses.

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