“Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” could easily be written about our divided nation today, but it’s the title of a book Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. published more than 50 years ago.
Taking the title of King’s 1967 book as the theme of the 2021 Community MLK Celebration, the University of Virginia’s Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is planning a series of virtual events Jan. 18 through 31.
“The question ‘Where do we go from here?’ is one that we are all grappling with for a variety of reasons,” Kevin G. McDonald, vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion and community partnerships, wrote in an email. “From the pandemic to pressing community needs to racial equity, many across Grounds and in our Charlottesville-Albemarle community are trying to determine the next steps that will have the greatest impact.
“This year’s Community MLK Celebration brings a focus on pressing community issues such as food insecurity, a shared sense of purpose, and self-care,” he added. “It features UVA and community members who have made a difference in this community and beyond. I’m hopeful that during these difficult times, we’ll continue to come together and implement strategies around areas of need to create a better future for all.”
The division will undertake a new activity this year in honor of this year’s celebration by providing monetary investments to local nonprofit organizations that are making a meaningful and significant impact on the community, especially during this unprecedented time, including the African American Teaching Fellows, City of Promise, International Neighbors, the Legal Aid Justice Center, Loaves & Fishes and the Piedmont Housing Alliance.
Also for the first time, the division is giving away copies of King’s book, inviting the community to read it before joining a Jan. 25 virtual panel discussion that will explore his ideas about civil rights accomplishments and the real costs of social justice that still haven’t been paid.
People can pick up a free copy of King’s “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” at the UVA Multicultural Student Center, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (room 129), New Dominion Bookshop, the Yancey Community Center, and at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, including the Central Library and the Crozet, Gordon Avenue and Northside branches.
Here is a sampling from this year’s list of virtual talks, panel discussions, self-care workshops and other activities. They are co-sponsored by many University-affiliated offices, departments and groups, along with UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as community partners including UVA’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the New Dominion Bookshop, and the UVA College Wise.
The popular annual community celebration and worship service will be held virtually on Jan. 24 at 4 p.m.; more details are forthcoming.
The full calendar can be viewed here. There, click on the event title for more information and to register.
- Race Relations and Criminal Justice in the New Year
Jan. 19, 3:30 p.m.
Following a year of intense activism sparked by the Black Lives Matter Movement, what will race relations and criminal justice reform in America look like under the incoming Biden administration? Kevin Gaines, UVA’s Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice and a Miller Center senior fellow, will discuss these topics with Paul Butler, a professor in the Georgetown University Law Center and a legal analyst on MSNBC.
- A Conversation with Austin Channing Brown
Jan. 20, 5 p.m.
Austin Channing Brown, author of the best-selling “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” will speak about the task of building community out of chaos. Celebrating the experiences of Black women, her work also includes producing the web series, “The Next Question.”
- “In Love We Still Trust: Lessons We Learned from Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr.”
Jan. 21, 1 p.m.
Virgil Wood, an Albemarle County native, will discuss his book, “In Love We Still Trust: Lessons We Learned from Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr.” and share his early experiences attending Hillsboro School in Crozet and Albemarle Training School in Charlottesville.
Wood, a Baptist minister, worked closely with King Jr. for 10 years, including as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s national executive board. He organized the Virginia section of the historic “March on Washington” in 1963. With a doctorate from Harvard University, Wood has worked in community development and education, most recently as a Ridenour Fellow with Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and as leader of the Virginia Tech-Virginia Union University Beloved Community Initiative.
While Wood is giving his talk, sculptor Daniel Fairbanks, a professor of biology at Utah Valley University, will create a real-time interpretation of him.
Jan. 21, 6 p.m.
UVA graduate student Alexys Riddick will lead this free session of exercise with Zumba dance. Registration is required by Jan. 15.
Food and Justice in Virginia
Jan. 27, 2 p.m.
A panel will discuss several challenges in the U.S. food system, such as equitable access to fresh, nutritious and affordable food, as well as the health and safety of farm and food service workers, past and present. Presented by UVA’s Lifetime Learning Program and Morven Farm’s MLK Program, the event will be moderated by UVA politics professor Paul Freedman, who teaches about the politics of food, among other subjects.
Community Wealth Building and the Reconstruction of American Democracy: Can We Make American Democracy Work?
Jan. 28, 1:30 p.m.
Just published in October, the book “Community Wealth Building and the Reconstruction of American Democracy” explores the divide between our democratic aspirations and our current reality, addressing questions such as, “How can we create and sustain an America that never was, but should be?”
The editors will participate in a panel discussion, with Melody C. Barnes, a Miller Center and law professor who co-directs UVA’s Democracy Initiative, moderating. Joining co-editors Corey D.B. Walker, humanities professor at Wake Forest University, and Thad M. Williamson, associate professor at the University of Richmond, will be Barbara Brown Wilson, a professor in the School of Architecture who is co-founder and faculty director of UVA’s Equity Center.