Dr. King’s influence still fights for rights

On Jan. 21, the nation will observe Martin Luther King Day.

Martin Luther King Day, though, has not always been celebrated in every state. In fact, not until 2000 did all 50 states celebrate the holiday, which remembers Martin Luther King, Jr., and his efforts with civil rights and his activism with trade unions.

In Utah, Martin Luther King Day was known as Human Rights Day up until 2000 when the Utah State Legislation voted to change the name.

This week on campus is the 14th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration.

The keynote speaker scheduled to speak is Dolores Huerta, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. Huerta’s speech is titled, "Women and the Fight for Social Justice," and will focus on women and immigration, including the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his influence.

She frequently practices peaceful resistance as advocated by Rev. King, amassing over twenty arrests due to her involvement in non-violent protests.

Now in her seventies, Huerta continues to be active in fighting for equal rights. Huerta will also participate in a panel discussion on current civil rights. Huerta was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Keynote speakers in the past have included: Dr. Vincent Harding, who worked side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, civil rights crusader Morris Dees, John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund and Yolanda King, Daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Another major event for the commemoration is the performance of "Black Boy" on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Ragan Theater.

This adapted for the stage play from Richard Wright’s autobiography tells the story of Wright’s struggles growing up in the South with racism in the early 1900s, and has been recognized nationally for its discussion on racism and inequality in America.

The office of academic affairs donated seventy-five copies of Richard Wright’s "Black Boy" in preparation for the event. The books are meant to "read and pass on," where after an individual reads the book is able to write his or her name and comments inside, and then pass on to someone else that wants to read it.

These books are available at Michael Freeman’s office in the library (LC-403) or from many of the MLK Advisory Board members.

The UVSC Student Service Council and BYU Service Council are also sponsoring the Community Outreach Day/Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 21.

All participants should meet at 9 a.m. at the BYU Wilkinson Center, where there will be more than 25 service projects in which students and community members can participate.

For more information on any of the events visit www.uvsc.edu/events/mlk

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