“A King’s Company: Lessons for the Flock”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021
Leslie-Anne Pittard, AVP Campus and Community Engagement, Division of Equity and Inclusion
The pandemic, wildfires, social unrest, and 2020 election have shaped a historic, challenging, and divisive backdrop. The UO MLK Commemoration provided a particularly unique opportunity to reflect on our actions inspired by King’s legacy around racial justice, our changing environment, and overall recovery from the novel coronavirus. This year’s commemoration was different, and shaped by the theme, “A King’s Company: Lessons for the Flock.” This theme invites us to reconnect with one another, share relevant insights around our efforts, and be reminded of our ongoing commitment of further bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
COVID-19 testing was available all day on January 14, signaling care for the flock. Our first ever virtual MLK program began our day, hearing words, meditations, music, and inspiration from across campus. With the support of members of campus Diversity Committees across campus and members of the President’s Diversity Advisory Community Council, we held campus-wide courageous conversations intended to align actions across key campus areas. Of course, this was only one day, but as our MLK masks proclaimed —MLK, every day. We will continue this journey.
This year’s UO MLK was a virtual program in lieu of our annual in-person luncheon. The program premiered on YouTube with a live chat so we could be together, but its inspirational words, music, and meditations can be watched and listened to at any time. Join together to sing the Black National Anthem or join a morning meditation with Rabbi Meir Goldstein; listen to the commemorative and stirring messages from Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh, UO President Michael Schill, and Damien Pitts, academic adviser and diversity initiatives specialist in the Lundquist College of Business; and take in the musical tributes by Assistant Professor of Flute Jackie Cordova Arrington and School of Music and Dance scholar Natalie North.
Campus members were encouraged to reconnect with each other and work together toward an ongoing commitment to social justice to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.
For 35 years, the Skanner Foundation has invited the community to celebrate the life of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a shared breakfast event, though this year the event will be virtual. An event highlight is presenting students with Skanner Foundation scholarships. This year three ducks are amongst the recipients—Lisa Amani, a freshman majoring in political science, Melissa Torres-Durán, Spanish and advertising majors, and Kelly Schooler, majoring in anatomy and human physiology.
Read about Lisa Amani's journey from the Congo to the University of Oregon in the article Turning Pain into Ambition.
As part of developing a new online version of SPAN 150, Melissa Torres-Durán conducted interviews with faculty who teach Spanish language and literature.
The mission of the Skanner Foundation is to “Challenge people to shape a better future now.” The foundation works in conjunction with The Skanner newspaper and website, published in Portland and Seattle, which works to advance the cause of the Black Press in the Northwest.
The UO Skanner Scholars:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the UO
We have been working on exploring all the ways we can be in community this year in spirit if not in person. Some of how we have weathered these “storms” and been successful is because of years past of building community, as well as dreaming and working towards what community might become in the future. In that spirit, we offer these throwbacks to UO MLK award ceremonies and community marches of the past few years.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the meaning of Love
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the UO 2019
Produced by Jasmine Jackson, SOJC ’20