Martin Luther King Day Events


Moving Beyond Thoughts to Action

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 15, the national observance of Dr. King’s birthday, and extending into the week of January 22. This year, our events are planned to connect to the Utica College Campus Theme of “Leading the Way”, with a focus on using Dr. King’s legacy to help move us from dreaming into action.

We look to answer three important questions:

  • What does Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of ensuring civil and economic rights, ending racism, and creating a beloved community mean for us today?
  • What would Martin Luther King, Jr., or those he inspired, say about contemporary social issues and social movements?
  • How can we move beyond dreaming 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, Diversity and Inclusion, Student Living and College Engagement, Opportunity Programs, the Diversity Committee, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. program planning group, the Campus Theme Committee, and a number of student organizations, including Alpha Phi Omega, the Black Student Union, Brothers On a New Direction, the Student Government Association, Women In a New Direction, and the K. Della Ferguson Womyn's Resource Center.

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
  • Library display(s) - timeline of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and work
  • Quotes, posters, and print information distributed across campus


Mon., Jan. 15

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honoring his legacy

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge, Strebel Student Center
Begins at 12:00 Noon

  • Add your dreams, and your pledge about how you will take action to realize your dreams, to a “Tree of Dreams” in the Ellen Knower Lounge
  • Make beaded pins reflecting your social and cultural identities for the Peace and Justice banner
  • Watch a series of videos relating to Dr. King’s career and the civil rights movement in the Lounge throughout the day, including a livestream of the New York State Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Observance
  • Listen to recordings of a number of Dr. King’s speeches
  • Have your picture taken with quotes from Dr. King that are most meaningful for you and talk about your choice for a video to be aired during the “Dream Showcase”
  • Make signs for the UC Peace March


Note: Main campus classes will not meet on Monday, January 15, 2018 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; there are a number of activities planned to commemorate Dr. King and the civil rights movement and provide opportunities for members of the UC community to express their thoughts.

UC Peace March/Candlelight Vigil, hosted by Alpha Phi Omega, the Black Student Union, the Diversity Committee, and the Student Government Association

Begin in Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge in Strebel Student Center
4:30 p.m.

Join students, faculty and staff on a campus candlelit peace march, with a ceremony and related activities to follow after gathering back in Strebel Lounge.

  • 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. 16:

Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy in Action: The Underground Café Fundraiser

Clark Athletic Center Auditorium
6:00 p.m.

In Montgomery, Alabama in 1957, Dr. King asked the crowd “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” One of Dr. King’s enduring legacies is a call to service and action, and our connecting with future generations is even more crucial today. Join Brothers On a New Direction (BOND) and Women In a New Direction (WIND) at the men’s basketball game as they provide information about and fundraise in support of the Underground Café, a local teen center in Utica. All proceeds will benefit the Underground Café, whose mission is to provide positive experiences and challenge the perceptions of teenagers in Utica.
Underground Cafe
Wed., Jan. 17

Using Our History to Find A Way Forward: My Story, Peterboro, Slavery and Abolition
Alden "Max" Smith

Jackson Lunch Hour Series Event

Macfarlane Auditorium
12:30 p.m.

Gerrit Smith, upstate New York abolitionist, helped lay the foundation for the civil rights movement of the 60's. What meaning does his work against slavery have for us now, as we confront current civil right issues? How do our personal histories intertwine with a larger movement? Explore with Max Smith, whose ancestors settled in upstate New York due in part to their connection with Gerrit Smith, the ways in which our past has shaped the present and can help us in making choices about the future.

Details about this talk →
Alden Smith
Thurs., Jan 18

Pio Talk with Rev. Eve Stevens: “Engaging Our Differences and Building Relationships

Pioneer Café
4:30 p.m.

When we go to the grocery store, movie theater, a museum, or attend school, we are treated in various ways because of the color of our skin, our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our physical ability, or other aspects of who we are. Everyone is shaped by their social identity. Yet there is no way someone can understand who we are, what we are like, what experiences we've had, or what our opinions are simply by knowing the color of our skin, our gender, religious affiliation, ability or disability, or any part of our social identity. To build meaningful relationships across our differences, we have to hold these two truths simultaneously, recognizing the systems and culture of oppression that we live in and are shaped by every day while honoring the complexity of who we are as individuals. Spend some time exploring these two truths through sharing pieces of our personal history and exploring the larger social biases that shape us all. Bring yourself and your experiences!

FILM@UC: “Whose Streets?”

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

A powerful and passionate documentary about the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, and the movement to which it gave birth, following the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of police.
Whose Streets?
Sat., Jan. 20

“What Stands Between Us”
Facilitator: Patrick Johnson

Carbone Family Auditorium, ECJSC Building
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Engage with members of the UC community in a full day workshop with community activist, educator and facilitator Patrick Johnson. Take the opportunity to share your personal experiences with race and racism, explore how we are shaped by history, recent events, and current systems and institutions, and how we can talk and work with each other to move forward.

Continental breakfast and a light lunch will be provided. RSVP's required - please let us know you're coming by emailing
Mon., Jan. 22

Women In The Civil Rights Movement

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge, Strebel Student Center
12:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Ella Baker, Septima Clark, and Fannie Lou Hamer – are these names you know? Women have played an integral role in social change movements throughout history, and are all too often not recognized for their contributions. Join Women In a New Direction (W.I.N.D.), the Black Student Union, and the K. Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center in an interactive activity with displays including pictures, props and facts introducing you to some of the women who helped pave the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950’s, 1960’s and beyond – and leave with a poster and inspirational quote from the women you learn about!
Tues., Jan 23

Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in the 21st Century

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

We often think of slavery ending with abolition in the 19th century, but forced labor, involuntary servitude, and debt bondage continues today and harms people in every country in the world. Join the K. Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center for a presentation and forum on human trafficking as a form of modern day slavery.
Thurs., Jan. 25

Rev. Sharon Risher
Tattered Pieces: A Charleston Daughter Explores Loss, Faith and Forgiveness

Carbone Family Auditorium, ECJSC Building
4:00 p.m. Presentation, Reception to follow

Reverend Sharon Washington Risher was catapulted into the limelight after the Charleston, South Carolina shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, where she lost her mother, two cousins, and a best friend. Since that tragedy, Reverend Risher has been outspoken about the nation’s gun laws, serving as a spokesperson for grassroots advocacy work. Her journey has included hearing and seeing Dr. King when she was a young girl, making multiple appearances on CNN, visiting President Barak Obama at the White House, and speaking at several Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial events. Join Reverend Risher as she talks about her personal experience in losing loved ones to gun violence, racism and hate in America, draws connections between Dr. King’s message and the events of that time with what she sees happening today, and shares her thoughts about the path to forgiveness and an offering of hope for tomorrow.
Rev. Sharon Washington Risher
Sat., Jan 27

"Dream" Showcase

Ellen Knower Clarke Lounge, Strebel Student Center
4:00 p.m. (doors open at 3:30 p.m.)

Celebrate the variety of ways we maintain our culture through dance, music, and spoken word with a showcase of performances by individual UC students and student organizations! Enjoy as multicultural Greek organizations stroll, groups such as Africa in Motion and Prestige perform contemporary forms of dance and stepping and discuss how they are connected to their cultural history, students bring to life key moments in the civil rights movement through theatrical expressions, and individuals share thoughts and feelings through song and spoken word.


Alane Varga
Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

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