UCA honors MLK through annual breakfast, day of service

The University of Central Arkansas has put together several different opportunities to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this year.

The UCA Office of Diversity and Community will hold its annual commemorative breakfast to celebrate King’s legacy and path to the social justice movement at 8:45 a.m. Friday in the student center ballroom on campus.

This year’s theme is, “The Dream: Vision Beyond 20/20,” and will feature speaker Tamika S. Edwards, J.D., the executive director of Philander Smith College’s Social Justice Institute in Little Rock.

Hundreds from the community usually attend the annual event but are encouraged to confirm attendance via diversity@uca.edu by Wednesday.

The day usually begins with breakfast at 8:45 a.m. then the program starts around 9 a.m.

In years past, the event has been kicked off with prayer, performances by varying guests – last year the Negro National Anthem was performed by the Sylvan Hills Middle School – and speakers.

“We’re here for his sense of service, his sense of leadership, his sense of change that he brought to the United States,” Congressman French Hill said during the 2019 event. “That’s what MLK day is … how we celebrate [it] now, which is, send each of us out into our communities to do a better job, to bring people together, to solve problems, make our community a better place.”

The annual breakfast has featured many different notable figures in the past including the first African American Fort Smith mayor, George B. McGill, Arkansas Sen. Joyce Elliott, and Corey Oliver, a literacy teacher at Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School in Conway.

The university will also host several volunteer activities in honor of King during the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service from 12-3 p.m. Jan. 20.

The annual day of service, led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, works with thousands of nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, school and businesses.

Volunteers for the day will meet at the Conway Ministry Center at 701 Polk t., to clean and prepare its warming stations for homeless individuals to use and to make fire kits for the unsheltered homeless.

“We are really honored to be able to participate in this national day of service, which will allow our students and community members to make a positive difference in memory of so many others who have done the same,” Lesley Graybeal, director of service learning at UCA, said in a news release.

Service-day activities are open to community volunteers and participants. To sign up, visit www.uca.edu/go/servicedays or contact Victoria Mays at 501-852-0245. 

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net.

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