Visit to see the full slate of virtual events for Eastern Mennonite University's 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.

MLK Day Celebration to kick off spring semester

Eastern Mennonite University will celebrate MLK Day 2021 on Monday, January 18, with worship, speakers and discussions on the pandemic, police violence, and the Civil War, and other activities.

The full slate of events, including ways to Zoom access links, can be viewed on the MLK Jr. Celebration website.

This year, the celebration marks the first day of EMU’s 2021 spring semester; no classes are held in order for students to participate in the events.

This year’s theme, “No love without justice: no justice without truth,” is drawn from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. “I refuse to accept the view of mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality,” King said. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

The celebration kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 17, with an afternoon virtual worship service hosted by Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Harrisonburg. This event is a tradition of EMU’s MLK Celebration. The service will feature Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA.

Monday’s speaker is Nyle Fort: a minister, activist, and scholar based in Newark, N.J. Fort has worked in education, criminal justice, and youth development for over a decade, and is the co-founder and co-director of The Maroon Project (TMP), an activist incubator based in Newark.

“Oppression can sometimes feel so overwhelming and so all-consuming that our imaginations become so limited that we can’t even imagine a different kind of world,” he said, in a talk with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute in 2018. “And so I think that joy comes in a very embodied sense when folks come together collectively to fight back oppression but then to imagine something differently altogether.”

After convocation on Monday, Fort will give a talk titled “The pandemic, police violence, and the possibility of transformation.” 

Other featured speakers are Jacqueline Walker, emerita professor of history at James Madison University [this event has been cancelled due to illness]; Brent Lewis, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at James Madison University; and Professor Mark Sawin. In the afternoon, there will be a screening of the 2014 movie Selma in honor of Congressman John Lewis. 

Throughout the day, there will also be three opportunities to join JourneyDance sessions led by Katie Mansfield, director of the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience program. JourneyDance is a virtual participatory, facilitated group dance experience. Participants can dance, move, draw, journal, or just be still and appreciate the experience – the only rule is don’t come as a spectator!

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