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Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs

Letter from Dr. Myra Gordon

Dear Colleagues:

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Week Planning Committee is pleased to announce its line-up of events for the 2016 celebration.  Every year’s observance has its own unique character.  This year, we are thinking about the wide-spread student unrest on many campuses across the country and their strident calls for a campus climate free of harassment and hostility.  We are also thinking about the uptick in racism, sexism, immigration angst and Islamophobia that has occurred in the context of recent political campaigns, and how divisive and hurtful this rhetoric has been for many people.  And of course, we are thinking about all the lives lost senselessly to rampant gun violence.  With all of this in mind and hope unwavering, we have chosen as our theme for the 2016 observance week, “Never Stop Pursing the Dream.”  “Yes,” we have many difficult issues confronting us, but “No” we will never stop pursing the dream.

Our celebration will begin on Monday, January 25 with three events.  The first is the Diversity Canvas Kickoff featuring announcements about participation in the mixed media art competition. Participant’s works will be featured on art panels on the K-State Student Union construction walls.  This exhibit will feature different diversity themes. We encourage all student artists to participate and submit their works by February 12. For more information contact La Barbara Wigfall at lbjw@k-state.edu. The second event will be the Diversity Tea, hosted by K-State Polytechnic in Salina.  The Tea will feature the author, Bryon Smith addressing the topic, “The Message: Dr. King Speaks to Hip Hop.”  The Tea will take place from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the College Center Cafeteria.  The third event will be the 12th Annual College of Agriculture Diversity Student Leader Program featuring Dr. Freddie L. Richards, Sr. Professor of Agriculture from Prairie View A & M University.  Dr. Richards will speak at 5:30 p.m. in Room 137 of Waters Hall.  We are so grateful to the College of Agriculture for this long-standing program targeting student leaders. 

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Our celebration will continue on Tuesday, January 26 with two events. The first is the K-State Student Leader Diversity Conversation from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. in the Tadtman Boardroom of the Alumni Center.  This event has been designed to facilitate communication among our various student organizations. 

At 3:30 p.m. on the same day, the Commerce Bank Presidential Awards Reception will take place at the K-State Alumni Center.  We really encourage the entire campus community to attend this reception and congratulate our award winners who have done so much to advance K-State diversity, to contribute to the success of historically under-represented students, and to promote inclusive excellence.  We are grateful to Tom Giller and Commerce Bank for their support of these awards for 37 years. 

On Wednesday, January 27, the College of Business Administration will host its 17th Annual Diversity Lecture.  This year’s speaker will be Mr. Michael Gonzales, Leader of Corporate Diversity and Inclusion at Hallmark.  Mr. Gonzales will speak at 10:30 a.m. in Forum Hall at the Union.  We are very pleased to have this Hallmark representative on our campus, and we highly commend the College of Business Administration for 17 years of outstanding diversity lectures. 

Also on Wednesday, the College of Arts and Sciences will conduct its 2nd Annual Civil Rights Teach-In from 12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m. in the Leadership Studies Town Hall.  Faculty members from the college will lead table discussions and facilitate meaningful dialogues on the pressing social issues of today.  Participants will be free to come and go as they please, as well as to sit in on as many different discussions as they wish.  We applaud the College of Arts and Sciences for promoting civil discourse on difficult topics as one way to build cultural competence and improve campus climate.  Let us come together and talk to each other. 

Later on Wednesday, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will hold its annual MLK Lecture and Candlelight Vigil followed by a hot chocolate social sponsored by the Staley School of Leadership Studies.  The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Union’s Forum Hall.  Dr. Timothy Askew, English Professor from Clark Atlanta University, will deliver the MLK Lecture on the topic, “Cultural Hegemony and African American Patriotism: An Analysis of the Song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  The Alpha’s Candlelight Vigil is the oldest MLK observance program at K-State.  Dr. King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 

At noon on Thursday, January 28, the Civil Rights Matinee will take place in the Alumni Center Ballroom.  This year’s program will feature the documentary, “Freedom Seekers: Stories from the Western Underground Railroad.”  The filmmaker, Mr. Gary Jenkins, will be on hand to introduce the film and to participate in a question-and-answer period after the film. 

Reservations are now closed. Matinee attendees are encouraged to make their reservations by filling out and submitting the reservation form at: http://www.k-state.edu/diversity/2016/rsvp.html by January 23, 2016.  This form asks for your name, department, and contact information for billing.

Later on Thursday, January 28, the Beach Museum is presenting “Hard Truths Revisited in the Work of Two African American Artists.”  This program will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the UMB Theatre at the Beach Museum.  The program will feature Julian Bond’s taped remarks at the Hard Truths exhibit at the Minneapolis Museum of Arts and the work of Thornton Dial.  Attendees will be given an update on the Gordon Parks Digital Humanities Project.  Leaders from K-State’s Black Student Union will comment and lead the audience discussion. 

On Friday, January 29, the Black Faculty and Staff Alliance and Alianza will have their annual Brown-bag Discussion.  The two groups will discuss contemporary social justice issues and how they can work even better together to advance social justice on our campus.  The event will take place from 12:30 – 1:45 pm. in the Purple Pride Room of the Alumni Center. 

The week’s observance will conclude on Friday afternoon with the Laying of the Wreaths Ceremony at the MLK Bust at 2:00 p.m.  We are grateful to the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, the Division of Communication, MANRRS; and United Black Voices for providing wreaths.  We are also very pleased that Vice President Cheryl Johnson and Assistant Vice President Ronnie Grice will deliver the comments at the ceremony.  The Laying of the Wreaths Ceremony is always very beautiful and it gives us a moment to pause at the end of an eventful week to reflect and re-commit.

As you can imagine, many people have worked very hard to bring these events for the King celebration to the K-State campuses in Salina and Manhattan.  The Planning Committee is especially grateful to all the loyal supporters of the observance week activities which include Commerce Bank, all those providing wreaths, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the colleges for bringing in such outstanding speakers, the Staley School of Leadership Studies, and to the Beach Museum.  We are very grateful to the Office of the President for providing funding to support our campus-wide celebration.  I am grateful for the leadership of Mirta Chavez and the tireless support of the staff in the Office of Diversity. 

We hope you will join us for as many events as possible – the art exhibit, the film documentary, the Tea, the Commerce Bank Awards, the Teach-In, the lectures, the meetings and discussions, the vigil, and the ceremony of Laying the Wreaths.  Let's make the 2016 MLK Observance Week a time of coming together and renewing our commitment to “Never Stop Pursing the Dream.”

View and download the 2016 MLK Observance Week Poster at:

(http://www.k-state.edu/diversity/2016mlkweekposter.pdf) and pick up hard copies of the poster for display in your area.

Finally, thanks to all of you for all you have done to support and advance diversity at our beloved university.  We have an excellent foundation from which to reach higher heights due to your collective efforts.  Have a splendid break and may every good and wonderful thing find its way to you in 2016.


A fond farewell,


Myra Gordon, Ph.D.

Associate Provost for Diversity

224 Anderson Hall