Gail Hairston

MLK Center Features New Programming

Published: Oct 4, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 4, 2013) — In its storied 26-year service to the University of Kentucky, the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center has undergone many changes, from location to leadership, to programming. With a new calling to address the most vital needs of the students it serves, the center has been launched with a new purpose, new leadership, new programming, new goals and a new name — the Martin Luther King Center.

 

The UK MLKC will focus on supporting the university’s diversity goals by developing and offering programs and experiences designed to prepare all students for the social, cultural and political challenges of an increasingly complex, multicultural, global community, according to its new mission statement. The center is “grounded in the conviction that the development of self-knowledge and cultural competence based on an enlightened worldview is a vital dimension to becoming a genuinely educated person.”

 

The new interim director of the MLKC, Kahlil Baker, said his vision for the Martin Luther King Center is that it be “a hub for intellectual dialogue on diversity and be recognized as living Dr. King’s dream of inclusivity in support of student success.”  Baker is a former counselor for CARES, the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services, a division of the UK Office for Institutional Diversity.

 

UK Vice President for Institutional Diversity Judy “J.J.” Jackson said the new direction is part of a shift to underscore even more the center's role in improving student success.

 

“As an institution, we want to address UK's persistent issues of increasing the retention rate of our students, increasing the diversity of our Honors Program, and trying to enhance student achievement so that students are doing more than just graduating.

 

“Retention is an academic issue, diversity in the honors program is an academic issue, and increasing student achievement is not only an academic issue; research has shown that when students are involved in the life of a university, their academic performance improves,” she said.

 

Jackson did not have to look far for the inspiration she needed to find new purpose for the center. She simply looked to the life of the center’s namesake.

 

“I believe that if we all interpret Dr. King's vision in the same way, in the right way, he would want to help all underserved people to become a stronger part of the institution, the life of the campus and the university success,” she said.

 

When Jackson named Baker interim director, she also appointed Gerald L. Smith as Scholar-in-Residence to the Martin Luther King Center and leader of its academic programming. With research interests in African-American history, the Civil Rights Movement and African-Americans in Kentucky, historian Smith was a co-editor of “The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr.: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-1963, Volume VI (2007).” Smith, associate professor of history in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, is working on two projects, the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, which is expected to be published fall 2015, and a book-length study of the history of African Americans in Kentucky.

 

This fall, Smith will take students to historic sites in Kentucky, Camp Nelson and Mammoth Cave and will use his role as the scholar-in-residence to help collect archival materials on Kentucky African Americans and further develop an oral history collection on African American ministers in Kentucky.

 

“I have a passion for making history alive and relevant,” said Smith. “In doing so, I seek to encourage students to think historically and critically. I want to introduce them to historical debates, questions and subjects that will spark their interest in learning more about the past and its connections to the present."

 

He will encourage students to engage in scholarly research through the Nunn Oral History Center and Special Collections and Digital Archives. He will work with the King Center staff to recruit students to serve as research assistants on projects relating to sports history and Kentucky African American history, said Smith.

 

As the King scholar-in-residence, he will teach a spring semester course on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Students will study King's speeches, sermons, religious theology, leadership, family, the African American church, the civil rights movement as well as the controversy surrounding his assassination.

 

Jackson’s goals and inspirations coalesced into the current plan to “increase the academic and intellectual involvement of the center across the campus, undergirded by some of the cultural programming it has been known for all these years, but recognizing that today’s students need to see the integration of the cultural and the academic as intentional across this campus.”

 

“I know in my heart the King Center can be a rich, rich resource for every group on campus when its effect and impact is spread across the campus. That was the vision that I had for the center when I came here and saw its potential,” Jackson said.

 

She says she has seen that dream come to life in recent months as student-developed programming has birthed a fresh attitude and bringing black students, Asian students, Hispanic students and white students to the center.

 

“Every event that I have gone to recently has attracted a mix of people. In fact, a couple of white students actually endeavored to join black sororities and asked me for recommendations to support their bid to join. I believe that is what King would have wanted us to do, to work toward building something that everyone could learn from, benefit from and enjoy. Because that is the avenue by which we hope to bring this university to a better place, to a higher ground,” said Jackson.

 

Jackson’s teams of students, faculty, staff and administrators have envisioned expansive, innovative new programming priorities for the King Center, under the day-to-day watch of student groups, such as the UK CATalyst Coalition, the Black and Latino Male Student Success Initiative, the MLKC Emissaries and Majestic Unity, and the center’s interim director, Kahlil Baker, and assistant director, Rosalyn Robinson.

 

Using tools such as interviews and opinion surveys, these teams developed the MLKC’s Core Values, which guide all of its internal decision-making processes:

·         Inclusive Leadership: Strive to create opportunities for learning for the entire campus community.

·         Student Success: Strive to become an essential element to success for the students that are underserved in the population.

·         Advocacy: Serve as an advocate for an inclusive campus and environment, and for all students to realize that they are a valued part of the UK community.

·         Collaboration: Work with high regard of collaborating and partnering with a variety of entities.

·         Outreach: Exemplify the ideal and philosophy of Dr. King by connecting students across social and cultural boundaries and the campus to the Lexington community, and reaching across the state of Kentucky to further efforts of inclusivity.

 

“The future of the MLK Center could not be brighter,” Jackson said. “Our students continue to empower us with their sense of resilience and vision for the future of the center. They truly are visionary; the students see possibilities and opportunities to sustain the center’s great legacy, while taking full ownership and responsibility in doing their part to make sure the MLK Center is a supportive space for their needs, but even more so for the students that will come after them.”

 

Highlights of the Martin Luther King Center’s calendar of events this fall follows. Visit the MLKC website for regularly scheduled meetings, like Soup and Substance on third Thursdays, and additional special events. 

 

Oct. 8, 6 p.m., “Platanos Y Collard Greens” (Worsham Theater)

This off-Broadway production has been described as a modern West Side Story. “Platanos y Collard Greens” is a romantic comedy of two college students falling in love against their families’ wishes. Strangers from two different cultures, Latino and Black, these two love-struck students are forced to overcome prejudice while defending their bond with family and friends.

 

“This show will inspire you while making you laugh and think,” said Baker. Tickets are available at the Ticketmaster office at the Student Center for campus and the general public. Tickets are free to all UK students and reduced price for UK faculty and staff.

 

Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m., Soup and Substance: Multicultural Week: Watch Yo Mouth (MLKC)

 

Nov. 7, 6 p.m., Viewing of the movie “42” (Worsham Theater)

Brought to UK in collaboration with the Louie B. Nunn Center and Late Night Film Series.

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October
 
 
 
1
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Wed
2
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Thu
3
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Fri
4
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Sat
5
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Sun
6
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Mon
7
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Tue
8
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Wed
9
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Thu
10
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Fri
11
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Sat
12
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Sun
13
 
Mon
14
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Wed
16
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Fri
18
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Sat
19
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Sun
20
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Mon
21
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Tue
22
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Wed
23
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Fri
25
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
26
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
Sun
27
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Mon
28
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Tue
29
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Wed
30
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
Thu
31
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
Fri
 
Oct 23
Career Assessment Workshop 10/23/2014

Thu, 10/23/2014

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