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University’s MLK Celebration to Feature Colorado College President

Mike Edmonds, UM alumnus and acting co-president of Colorado College, headlines the discussion for the university’s 2021 MLK Day celebration, set for 6 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15) via Facebook. Photo courtesy Colorado College

The University of Mississippi’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is revisiting Martin Luther King’s 1967 book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” as part of the Community-Wide MLK Celebration 2021.

This year’s celebration, which will take place virtually at 6 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15), is headlined by Mike Edmonds, UM alumnus and acting co-president of Colorado College, who will reflect on the theme of community in a time of crisis, drawing on his experiences as a leader in higher education and a member of the UM community.

Chaos is a constant in our world, “…whether it’s the pandemic or an economic depression or global unrest,” and that is the responsibility of everyone, especially those in higher education, to build and enrich communities despite it,” Edmonds said.

“We can never lull ourselves into thinking there won’t be chaos,” he continued. “We have to expect we have a responsibility and opportunity for community. 

“What do we do at places like Colorado College and the University of Mississippi, where we’re about education, empowerment, knowledge and the use of that knowledge, to ultimately make us – society – better? Where is our opportunity and responsibility in the time of chaos to still advance good?”

Edmonds compared the current point in time to the one King documented in “Where Do We Go from Here?”

“Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life so that others in our country could have a better existence and a better society – a society that is actually built on the values of our founding,” he said. “Now we’re in this point in time. 

“If we want to think about it in the terms of the musical ‘Hamilton,’ if history has its eyes on us, what will history say about the university at this point in time and of our obligation for future communities?”

Chancellor Glenn Boyce will offer opening remarks at the event, which he said provides an opportunity for the LOU community and beyond to come together on an important day.

“Through this event, we are honoring a great man whose teachings, wisdom and bravery remain as valuable and relevant as ever,” Boyce said. “We are also reaffirming our commitment to pursue the ideals to make a better community, a better Mississippi and a better world. 

“We recognize that as an institution of higher education, we have a transformative role in advocating for the advancement and well-being of our state, our students and our future. Coming together, we have the power to help others and effect change.”

The celebration is open to everyone. Cade Smith, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement, said that because this year’s event is virtual, he hopes to see participants outside Oxford and the university attend.

“Something I think is special about the university is our rich and conflicted history,” Smith said. “We need to claim that history, and Mike Edmonds claims it passionately – not only for himself but for the power that this place has for humanity. 

“It’s precisely that history that puts us at the leading edge for social change in our country.”

The 2021 Community-Wide MLK Celebration will be streamed on Facebook, and anyone – whether a Facebook user or not – can register in advance or attend the event here.

By JB Clark

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