MLK Celebration Features Campus Events for Children
Fairfield University’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance features a series of campus-wide events for children designed to invigorate the spirit and inspire all to continue on with the important work reflected in the words, writings and actions of Dr. King. K-8 students from Bridgeport, Fairfield and nearby communities plan to take part.
On Thursday, January 29 at 4 p.m. at a Day of Service, Fairfield University student-athletes will host 60 middle-school students from Bridgeport schools at the RecPlex, followed by activities with Performing for Change, an undergraduate group that performs to address social issues, and Common Ground, a new student group. The visiting middle schoolers will then have dinner on campus and attend the Stags women’s basketball game later in the evening.
On Friday, January 30 at 10 a.m. in the BCC, a Youth Leadership Academy will be held for more than 100 eighth grade students from Bridgeport. They'll learn leadership skills, including conflict resolution, anti-bullying techniques and more. During the program, University students, staff and faculty will engage the young students in thoughtful and interactive sessions, discussions, and presentations related to the legacy of Dr. King, said Rony Delva, Project Director – Upward Bound.
On Friday, January 30 at 6 p.m., Poetry for Peace will take place at the Quick Center for the Arts, at which K-8 students from Bridgeport and Fairfield schools will read their poems to family members and friends. The annual event is designed to encourage discussion of how the imaginative and original language of poetry relates to the creation of peace and gives young writers a chance to express their own concepts of peace through the creative act of writing. A record number of 1,200 poems were submitted to this year’s Poetry for Peace competition. The event is sponsored by Fairfield University’s Writing Center; The English Department; The Connecticut Writing Project; and the MLK Coordinating Committee.
On Wednesday, February 4, at 7 p.m. at the Quick Center for the Arts, the 2015 MLK Convocation, rescheduled from January 28, will include the announcement of the winners of the 2014-15 Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest for middle schools students from Bridgeport. Students were encouraged to celebrate Dr. King’s vision through sharing stories of personal achievements and actions to do ‘what is right.’ Students were posed the questions: What do dreams and hope mean to you? How do you put your dreams and hope for justice and equality into action? The contest was organized by the Connecticut Post, Fairfield University, and Connecticut Writing Project – Fairfield.
Also at the Convocation, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, political advisor, counsel, and former draft speechwriter for Dr. King, will deliver the keynote address. He was involved with the creation of the “I Have a Dream” speech. From Dr. King's beautifully illustrated philosophies in his 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail to the powerful “I Have A Dream” speech, Jones finds that 50 years later the same challenges of racial segregation and unfair treatment are still posed for civil society today. The event will also include the presentation of Vision Awards to four members of the University community for their efforts to instill and inspire the teachings of Dr. King. Honorees are Nicole Davidow, a senior majoring in international studies involved in JUHAN and other service work; Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, associate professor of politics; Will Johnson, associate dean of students, and Larri Mazon, former director of Institutional Diversity Initiatives, who will be awarded the Rev. John LaFarge, S.J. Award.
Wylie Smith Blake, campus minister of Community Outreach, and Dr. Kris Sealey, associate professor of philosophy, are co-chairs of this year’s MLK observance, supported by a committee of 21 volunteers. More details are available at Fairfield.edu/mlk.
Image: A child reads aloud a poem he wrote at a past Poetry for Peace event.