“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Next week as the spring 2016 semester begins, Virginia Commonwealth University will celebrate its third annual MLK Celebration Week to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. From Jan. 18-24, the University will host events both on-campus and in the community to commemorate the accomplishments of King and further his spirit of service and dedication to justice. A full list of events and volunteer information can be found on the MLK Celebration Week website, available at www.mlkday.vcu.edu.
Highlights of the week include:
Non-Perishable Food Drive, Pencil Drive, and Voter Registration
Throughout the MLK Celebration Week, boxes with be at all events to collect non-perishable food items for the RamPantry collection drive. RamPantry, the VCU student food pantry, is located in room 121 of the University Student Commons and is open Wednesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program exists to ensure food security and well-being on campus by providing in-need VCU students, faculty and staff with healthy, culturally appropriate emergency food. For more information on the RamPantry collection drive, visit: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/collection-drive.html.
A pencil drive to benefit Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School will occur throughout the celebration week at all events, with collection boxes available in the same locations as those for the RamPantry collection drive. Those locations are available at: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/collection-drive.html.
Voter registration will be available before certain events to encourage students to have their voices heard in upcoming elections. These events include the Black Lives Matter Symposium on Wednesday, Jan. 20 in the Commonwealth Ballroom with voter registration from 6:15-7 p.m., the “Let Freedom Ring” MLK Celebration Concert on Thursday, Jan. 21 in the Richmond Salons with voter registration from 5:15-6 p.m. and the MLK Community Dinner on Sunday, Jan. 24 in the Commonwealth Ballroom with voter registration from 3:15-4 p.m. For more information on voter registration, visit: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/voter-reg.html.
Community Service and Volunteer Opportunities
There are two opportunities for service in the Richmond community on Friday, Jan. 22. The first is the Homelessness in the Community event at 11 a.m. in Common Ground of the University Student Commons. Volunteers will create winter item bags, while having a conversation facilitated by a representative from the Daily Planet regarding how VCU can assist the needs of the homeless community. Volunteers will then distribute the winter item bags in Monroe Park. For more information, visit: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/service-projects.html.
The second service opportunity on Jan. 22 is through MLK Celebration Week’s collaboration with Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. Volunteers are needed to read to special needs students and to tutor 6th graders in math and English. Transportation will be available, but seats are limited. The van will depart from and return to the West Grace South Residence Hall (ASPiRE), 835 W. Grace Street. The volunteer time slots are 8-10 a.m., 9:15-11:45 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 12:15-3 p.m. Register via MyOrgs by visiting: https://vcu.collegiatelink.net/organization/slic/events.
Major On-Campus Events
The Black Lives Matter Symposium will be held in the Commonwealth Ballroom in the University Student Commons at 7 p.m. The Symposium will feature leaders from the VCU and Richmond communities as well as Bree Newsome, a nationally recognized activist, writer and filmmaker. For more event information, visit: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/events.html.
The MLK Community Dinner, which will occur at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24 in the Commonwealth Ballroom, will conclude the Celebration Week with a performance from the Black Awakening Choir and remarks from VCU alumnus and pastor of The Life Church, Vernon Gordon. Remember – give a can, get a plate! Members of the Richmond and VCU community can enjoy dinner by donating a non-perishable food item to benefit the RamPantry collection drive. To register, visit: http://mlkday.vcu.edu/comm-dinner.html.