Martin Luther King Day Events


Martin Luther King Jr. - More than a Week of Events and Celebrations

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the Utica College community through a variety of programs beginning on Monday, January 16, the national observance of Dr. King’s birthday, and extending into the week of January 23. This year, our events are planned to connect to the Utica College Campus Theme of “Breaking Barriers”, and the 2016-2017 Diversity Committee theme of Champion for Change.

We look to answer three important questions:

  • Who was Martin Luther King, Jr., and what was his legacy?
  • What would Martin Luther King, Jr., or those he inspired, say about contemporary social issues and social movements?
  • What can we take from Dr. King’s legacy to use today? How can we be “champions for change” and take action on that which matters most to us and our communities?
Our hope is that the variety of programs planned, and the breadth of focus, will reach across disciplines and constituencies. We look forward to bringing our community together around:

  • issues of equality,
  • creating opportunities for us to connect with, learn from, and better understand each other, and
  • learning strategies for being effective change agents.
These events are made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Offices of the Provost, Student Affairs, Student Success, the Diversity Committee, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. program planning group, and the Campus Theme Committee.

Updates will be posted regularly on this page. For additional information, please email

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Related Events/Activities Across Campus

  • Micro Art Gallery display in Strebel Student Center
  • Google f​older of resources available for faculty and staff for use on first day of classes and beyond
  • Library display(s) - timeline of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and work


Mon., Jan. 16

Celebrating Dr. King's Legacy

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge in Strebel Student Center
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Make pins reflecting your social and cultural identities, and pin them with your messages to the Peace and Justice banner
  • Watch videos of Utica College community members reflecting on Dr. King and what they see as the importance of his legacy
  • Listen to recordings of a number of Dr. King’s speeches
  • Watch the New York State Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Observance
  • Make signs and banners for the UC Peace March

UC Peace March hosted by Student Senate and the Diversity Committee

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge in Strebel Student Center
4:00 p.m.
  • Information about the march and materials for making signs and banners provided in the Ellen Knower Clark Lounge throughout the day.
  • Silent march through campus
  • Return to Ellen Knower Clark Lounge for hot chocolate and other refreshments
  • Take part in a closing candlelight ceremony
  • Time and weather permitting, transportation will be provided following the closing ceremony to the local community march and ecumenical service hosted by the local NAACP chapter and other community organizations
Jan. 18:

Living History: A Conversation with Tuskegee Airman Herbert Thorpe

Carbone Auditorium, ECJS Building
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Herbert Thorpe was working with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Camden, NY when, on a fateful Sunday morning, he heard that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Like so many Americans, he would eventually enlist in the Army. But never did he imagine that he would rise above World War II-era racial discrimination and soar the skies as part of the Tuskegee Airmen, heralded by the 2012 film, “Red Tails.” Join Mr. Thorpe, who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2016 for his service, for a conversation about his experiences in the Army, his life after WWII, and his thoughts on current racial and social justice issues. Light refreshments provided.
Thurs., Jan. 19 

Pio Talk: Diversity Hour
“If Not Now, When? How (and Why) to Engage in Civil Discourse”

Pioneer Café, Strebel Student Center
4:30 - 6:00p.m.

Making change is more of a marathon than a sprint! Having honest and courageous conversations is the first step in challenging our assumptions about each other and helping others better understand our own worldview. What we do afterwards is up to us. Join members of the UC community in taking those first steps in the first Pio Talk of the spring semester.

Guest Facilitator:
Phyllis Breland, Director of Opportunity Programs and Interim
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Hamilton College

FILM@UC: “Loving”

MacFarlane Auditorium, DePerno Hall
7:00 p.m.

The first offering in the spring 2017 Film @ UC series, “Loving” recounts the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were sentenced to prison for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws in 1958, and whose case ultimately led to the landmark Supreme Court decision striking down laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Fri., Jan. 20

“Then and Now: A Culture of Activism at Utica College”

Macfarlane Auditorium, DePerno Hall
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

In the fall of 1969, five students representing the Black Student Union staged a sit-in only after repeated attempts to be heard were ignored. After more than 24 hours, the protest ended when a negotiated deal was signed by President J. Kenneth Donahue. The protest was enormously controversial and occurred at a time of great social unrest locally and throughout the US. In the fall of 1970, students continued their social activism on campus by forming student organizations that exist today. Our alumni panel will discuss the culture of activism on the UC campus in the late 60s and early 70s, the lessons they learned, and how the experience shapes their careers and lives. Join Utica College alumni as they reflect on this profound time in UC history and share their thoughts on contemporary implications.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Scott Smith and Dr. Jeff Miller of Utica College. Our panelists include:

  • Ronald C. Spratling, Class of ’71, Principal, Frank V. Thompson Middle School
  • Janice Miles, Class of ’74, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens, Inc.
  • Oliver Perry, Class of ’74, Executive Director, Urban Hope

Women and STEAM Speaker Series: Margot Shetterly

Stanley Auditorium, Genesee Street, downtown Utica
7:00 p.m.

John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong – all familiar names in the history of space exploration. How many of us know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Kathryn Peddrew, Sue Wilder, Eunice Smith or Barbara Holley? From the 1940s through the 1960s, a group of African-American women formed part of the country’s space work force, and helped provide NASA with the raw computing power it needed. Project Fibonacci will host Ms. Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race and founder of the Human Computer Project. Ms. Shetterly will talk about her work and celebrate these unsung heroes, teasing out issues of race, gender, science, and innovation.


  • $25 General Admission, $15 ​for ​MVCC/Utica College ​employees​. General Admission tickets available at the door or online at or
  • A limited supply of free student tickets will be available with proper ID for Utica College and MVCC students. Additional student tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 each.
Additional Details:
This program is provided in cooperation with ANDRO Computational Solutions LLC, the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Utica College, Mohawk Valley Community College, and the Stanley Theatre. 

Sun., Jan. 22

“Making Change: Nonviolence Philosophy and Strategies for Social Activism”

Boehlert Conference Room, Boehlert Hall
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Once you have an idea of what you want to change, it’s important to know how to strategize for action! John Breitbart, a member of the New England Nonviolence Trainers Network with more than 20 years of experience, will provide training involving a discussion of nonviolence and its implications for action. Interactive and skills-based, Mr. Breitbart’s training include role plays and strategies with an emphasis on the philosophy of nonviolence, and is based on the needs and experience of participants.

Refreshments will be provided.

Note: Space for this training is limited. Please email Alane Varga at to indicate your interest in attending.
Thurs., Jan. 26

#Living the Dream!

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge, Strebel Student Center
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Check out student exhibits as they express how they are making a difference in their communities and their dream for Utica College! Share hearty refreshments as you view videos of Utica College community members sharing their thoughts about Dr. King and his legacy and support local non-profits by purchasing bake goods from student organizations. Be sure to bring a donation of canned goods to be collected for a local veteran’s organization.


Alane Varga
Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

(315) 792-3006
1600 Burrstone Road | Utica, NY 13502