Jan. Events Will Focus on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Milestones

A year before he was assassinated, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a speech at Riverside Church in New York City: “Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”

In commemorating King’s legacy, the University of Virginia’s Office for Diversity and Equity is recognizing several milestones in American history that were achieved by speaking out and continuing action: the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude; and the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The University’s 2015 community celebration in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will feature two weeks of activities, from Jan. 18 to 30: panel discussions, plays, films and speakers including Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent at The Atlantic, who will give this year’s keynote address.

Coates’ Jan. 22 talk in Culbreth Theatre has already proved to be popular. Although tickets are free, they have already been reserved. Those without tickets can go to the box office to see if unclaimed tickets are made available at 5:50 p.m.; the talk begins at 6 p.m.

U.Va. collaborated with a local planning committee and dozens of nonprofit organizations, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, area schools, U.Va. student groups and U.Va. departments and offices, to plan the events.

Participants will “give voice” to civil rights topics that continue to be significant, including speaking out against injustice, reducing health care disparities, acknowledging the history of slavery and using the arts for creative expression of identity and history.

The 30th annual Charlottesville-Albemarle community gathering to commemorate King’s life will be held Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. in Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church.

All scheduled events are free except for the special performance of “Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey,” with Jasmine Guy, to be held Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theater. Tickets are $24.50. Inspired by the classic 1923 Jean Toomer novel “Cane” and works by musicians, composers, poets and actors of the Harlem Renaissance, “Raisin’ Cane” presents a medley of artistic outpouring from this critical period.

Several opportunities for discussion will take place – during a Jan. 17 community dialogue on race; the Jan. 23 panel discussion, “Black Lives Matter: Speaking Out Against Injustice”; and the Jan. 27 panel on “Slavery at the University of Virginia,” which follows the screening of the documentary “Unearthed & Understood: Slavery and the University of Virginia” by Eduardo Montes-Bradley. At the latter event, members of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, led by co-chairs Marcus Martin and Kirt von Daacke and including Maurie McInnis and Kelley Deetz, will give an overview of the mission, vision and current research.

Other activities consist of a Jan. 18 draw-a-thon at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center to collect images of what black men really look like; two movies, “First Generation” (Jan. 20 at Newcomb Hall Theater) and “Slavery by Another Name” (Jan. 29 at Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Central Branch), to be shown for free, as is the theatrical performance of “Revival” Jan. 23-25 at Piedmont Virginia Community College. “Slavery by Another Name” is part of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s series, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” which will screen two more films in February.

Jan. 19 will also feature events on opening doors to diversity in health care education and practice. During “Day in the Life of a Health Care Professional,” U.Va. undergraduates have the opportunity to shadow physicians in the Primary Care Clinic, while high school students are exposed to career and academic options in health care practice and research. Marc Nivet, chief diversity officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, will speak at 4 p.m. in McLeod Hall Auditorium.

“Each of these achievements [from Emancipation to the Voting Rights Act] helped to ‘give voice’ to those who, for too long, were ignored and silenced,” said Dr. Marcus L. Martin, U.Va.’s vice president for diversity and equity, in describing this year’s theme, “Giving Voice.” “As we remember these events and the ongoing struggle for equal rights, we will come together as a community to raise our collective voice against injustice and stand up for one another.”


  • Jan. 18, 5 p.m.: Annual Community Celebration, Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church
  • Jan. 19, 12:30-4 p.m.: Day in the Life of a Healthcare Professional. Medical Center
  • Jan. 19, 4 p.m.: Marc Nivet, “Diversity in Health Care Education and Practice,” McLeod Hall auditorium
  • Jan. 20, 7 p.m.: Film screening of “First Generation,” Newcomb Hall Theater
  • Jan. 21, 5:30 p.m.: Interfaith Worship Service, Brody Jewish Center
  • Jan. 22, 6 p.m.: Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Legacy and Justice: Civil Rights in the Modern Era,” Culbreth Theatre
  • Jan. 23, 6 p.m.: Dr. Glenn Anderson, “The Other Movement Inspired by Dr. King and the African American Struggle for Civil Rights,” Holloway-Bavaro Hall, room 116
  • Jan. 23-25, 7:30 p.m.: theatrical performance, “Revival,” PVCC Dickinson Building
  • Jan. 23, 2-4 p.m.: panel discussion, “Black Lives Matter: Speaking Out Against Injustice,” Harrison-Small Auditorium
  • Jan. 24, 10 a.m.: “Empowering Caregivers: African Americans and Alzheimer’s Disease,” Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • Jan. 25, 7 p.m.: performance, “Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey,” starring Jasmine Guy. Paramount Theater. (Jan. 26, 10:30 a.m. performance for school children)
  • Jan. 27, 3:30 p.m.: “Continuing Education at U.Va.: Early Service to Women and African Americans” exhibition, Harrison-Small Auditorium
  • Jan. 27, 6 p.m., film screening and panel discussion, “Slavery at the University of Virginia,” Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • Jan. 28, speaker, Evans Hopkins, “The Liberation of U.Va.: Using Your History to Inspire Your Future,” Holloway-Bavaro Hall, room 116
  • Jan. 29, 6 p.m., film screening, “Slavery by Another Name,” Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Central Branch

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications