UVA Commemoration To Explore MLK’s ‘Call to Higher Ground’

Guest speakers for the 2016 UVA Community MLK Celebration include, from left to right: Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Damon Tweedy, Alicia Garza, Martin Berger and Peres Owino.

Honoring the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will bring together University of Virginia and local community members in the coming weeks, as it has each January for more than 30 years.

Referencing King’s words in choosing a theme, the MLK Celebration Committee decided on “The Call to Higher Ground,” which comes from a 1965 speech that King delivered after the march from Selma to Montgomery.

“The battle is in our hands,” King said. “And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan, in a note to the UVA community, said the yearly tribute offers everyone the opportunity to come together to reflect on “King’s principles and their implications in our lives and in our society. … Throughout the two-week celebration, we will explore King’s call to higher ground in the context of our world today.” Alicia Garza, social activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, will deliver the keynote address on Jan. 25. Although those tickets are reserved, other events include a slate of exceptional speakers, performances, films, activities and engaging discussions.

“The many events of the 2016 celebration will reflect on how Dr. King’s teachings are so relevant today, inspiring the theme ‘The Call to Higher Ground,’” said Dr. Marcus L. Martin, UVA vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity.

Speakers include Dr. Damon Tweedy, author of the New York Times bestseller “Black Man in a White Coat” and a psychiatrist at Duke University Medical Center; Michael Eric Dyson, a New York Times op-ed contributor, MSNBC political analyst and Georgetown University sociology professor, discussing President Obama and the politics of race; and Alan C. Rasmussen, an instructor in UVA’s Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program who serves as a prevention specialist with Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services in Culpeper, on “Community Policing: Providing Public Safety and Building Community Relationships, Trust, and Cooperation.”

UVA student-participants will lead discussions on King’s “radical” writings, on the role of memorials and the student group Memorialization for Enslaved Laborers, and on the work of Architecture Professor Louis Nelson’s class, “Field Methods in Historic Preservation: Landscapes of Slavery on the Academical Village.”

The annual service at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, well known for its community choir performance, will take place on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.

All events are free but some require ticket reservations. See the schedule for details.

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications