By: Dr. Kenneth Sean Chaplin, Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Sociology & Criminology Department, JCU
I am grateful for the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Without him, I would not be where I am today. My journey into academia could and would not have happened without Dr. King. As a university professor today, a main focal point in my academic journey began in graduate school. Long before that, the starting point in this journey began when I was awarded a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship out of high school to attend a local university (Florida Atlantic University/(FAU), Boca Raton, Florida). After I completed my undergraduate at FAU, I advanced and obtained a Master’s Degree in Multicultural Foundations (from FAU) before earning my Ph.D. in Sociology (from Texas A&M University, College Station). None of this could have been achieved were it not for Dr. King’s sacrifice.
When I ponder what and how young high school and college students think about Dr. King today, it makes me sad. Many of these students know his name and maybe a speech that he gave, but not much else. All too often these groups of students lack awareness and understanding of how Dr. King was a leader for all people, who never submitted to fear and injustice but always chose to be courageous and determined with his fight for freedom, civil rights, and social justice. The beatings, bombings, and imprisonment he faced along with the mental and emotional abuse resulting from lies, defamation of his character, and slander were all met with Christ-filled loving-kindness, forgiveness, and non-violent protest. His actions and response in many ways are beyond the imagination and comprehension of these kinds of young adults today.
What continues to stand out to me most about Dr. King is his relentless commitment and pursuit of social justice and equality. Additionally, his warmth, coupled with his charisma and grace, makes him a personal hero. Even though he is widely recognized as a global champion for human rights and social justice, Dr. King’s legacy is personal - his impact is alive and well in me today because I benefited from his civic actions and moral sense of responsibility. Succinctly, his inclusive vision/dream of an America that offers freedom, hope, and opportunity & equality to all is personal and has significantly impacted my life.
Dr. King’s vision of all people enjoying the benefits of freedom, justice, and equality remains an outstanding challenge. Criminal justice reform, poverty, homelessness, disproportionate health and medical treatment are a few areas in our society yet to encounter social justice and equality. Even though we have made significant advancements in education, employment, and housing discrimination, in many ways we still have a long way to go before Dr. King’s vision/dream is an American reality.
JCU Celebrates the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All JCU students, faculty, and staff are invited to join our community-wide virtual film discussion in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, during our university "Tower Time" on Wednesday afternoon, January 19th, from 2-3 pm.
Our discussion topic will be the 2018 Emmy-award-winning HBO documentary film "King in the Wilderness," which follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the volatile last three years of his life, from the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in April 1968.
All participants will receive login information to access and watch the film in advance on their own time, and a Zoom link to join us for the meeting on Jan. 19. Click here to register: https://jcu.edu/form/mlk-jr-day-tower-time
Free, Local Events Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Black Baseball Stories 2022: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Presented by: Community Cup Classic Foundation
Virtual Event - Saturday, Jan. 15, 10-11 a.m. free, register here.
The event pays tribute to Dr. King’s legacy spotlighting the challenging, historic, and legacy of baseball's Negro Leagues and the African American experience in baseball.
Dr. King Celebration
Presented by: Cuyahoga Community College
Virtual Event - Sunday, Jan. 16, 2:30 p.m. free, watch here.
The event features performances by the Tri-C Orchestra, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, and the Tri-C Vocal Arts Choir, JazzFest Academy, and Dance Academy.
Hear Our Voices - MLK Day Celebration
Presented by: Maltz Museum Of Jewish Heritage
Virtual and in-person event - Monday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. free, register here.
Includes free Museum admission, virtual family activities, and a special online program featuring Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum. Advanced registration is required.
Virtual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Presented by: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Virtual Monday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. free, register here.
Tune in at the Rock Hall’s YouTube channel and website to watch interviews with Jennifer Hudson and Robert Randolph, archival footage of artists, exclusive induction footage, and artifact spotlights on artists like Janelle Monae, Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, and James Brown.
In-person Jan. 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. free, tickets must be reserved in advance here.
Attendees can watch King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech in the museum’s Forest City Theater, take a self-guided tour about music and culture in the Civil Rights movement, and check out the museum’s social justice-themed exhibit “It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment,”
The University's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has compiled a list of resources commemorating Dr. King, click here for more.
You can watch Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, here.