MLK events call Penn Staters to ‘take the next step’

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — More than a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Penn State’s 2016 commemoration of the civil rights leader is a call to action.

“Our theme is Keep Moving Forward with the hashtag of #takethenextstep,” said Moses Davis, chairman of the planning committee and director of the Multicultural Resource Center. “Given where we are in our world right now, this year’s theme really calls us to action to be change agents and do our part to continue developing, as people, to make this campus, country and world a place where we can dismantle prejudice and discrimination with affirmations of acceptance and inclusion.”

One of the highlights of this year’s commemoration is a talk by Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who has been speaking against violence in the wake of her teen son's death. Fulton will speak at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, in Schwab Auditorium; tickets are free and can be reserved until Jan. 12 here.

Events kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, with the Forum on Black Affairs' annual MLK memorial banquet at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel’s President’s Hall. The 31st year of events honoring MLK at Penn State, the 2016 lineup of activities was organized by students with support from a faculty/staff committee.

“A small but dedicated group, the students worked extremely hard on this year's events,” said Kelli Dowd, program coordinator in Student Activities. “They are committed to making the MLK Jr. Commemoration into a year-long celebration rather than just one week.”

Other events include:

-- “University Libraries Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month” exhibit, a collection of poster submissions from the MLK commemoration poster competition through Monday, Feb. 29, in the Pattee Library Central Lobby.

-- MLK Day of Service, which will mobilize volunteers to celebrate King’s legacy with projects throughout the community from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18. To volunteer, sign up at

-- Hourly presentations of the documentaries “Martin Luther King Jr.: Look Here” and “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: The Making of a Holiday” each hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, in Foster Auditorium, E102 Paterno Library.

-- Musical selections from Penn State’s Essence of Joy choir from 1:30 to 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18,  the Barbara Hackman Franklin Atrium, W106 Pattee Library.

-- Showings of “I Have a Dream” and other influential speeches from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, in Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center.

-- Community Showcase, an art, poetry and essay contest in conjunction with State College Area School District, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, in 129 HUB-Robeson Center.

-- Speak for Peace, a reception and oratorical contest from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, in Heritage Hall, HUB.

-- #takethenextstep, a discussion on taking action toward social justice, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, at Freeman Auditorium.

-- Student activism and interactive art exhibit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the first-floor Philanthropy Tables in the HUB-Robeson Center.

For updates on MLK events at Penn State, follow the hashtag #TakeTheNextStep and visit

Last Updated January 22, 2016