Miami observes MLK Day with virtual event


Poster courtesy of Miami University

Miami and Oxford will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a special virtual presentation on YouTube, 10 a.m. Monday.

By Abby Bammerlin

Monday, Jan. 17 celebrates Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day and is a time for many to remember King and all that he accomplished for civil rights. The day also serves as a reminder of civil rights issues that are still being fought, even today. 

Miami University’s Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion (OIDI), with the support of the Office of the President and in collaboration with the City of Oxford, the NAACP Oxford Chapter, and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI), will host a virtual two-hour lecture to commemorate King and his message, 10 a.m. Monday on the university’s YouTube channel. 

Cristina Alcalde is the vice president for OIDI and helped organize the event. She said fighting for social justice is still as important as ever. 

“Leading up to this year’s nationwide commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the King family called on the nation to remember that securing voting rights without racial barriers was an important goal for Dr. King, and that this continues to be an important goal today,” Alcalde said.

For many at Miami, MLK Day is a reminder of Oxford’s own participation in the fight for civil rights: Freedom Summer. 

In 1964, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the Western College for Women, located on what is now Miami University’s Western Campus, hosted the Mississippi Freedom Summer Training. 

The training aimed to show volunteers how to register Black voters in Mississippi. More than 800 people volunteered for the training.

After the training had finished, volunteers began moving south to carry out their goal of registering Black voters. Three volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered in response to their efforts. 

As part of OIDI’s presentation, the trailer for the documentary “Training for Freedom” will be presented by Richard Campbell and Jacky Johnson. Amber Franklin, a Miami professor and member of Oxford City Council, will also give some remarks on MLK and Freedom Summer. 

The event will also feature an art exposition by Talawanda students and student reflections from students Myja White and Curtis Harrison. 

Campbell, Miami professor emeritus, said if it was his decision, the “Training for Freedom” documentary about Freedom Center would be played in every University 101 class and be played every MLK Day.

He said the disenfranchisement of Black people in the 1960s is still relevant in today’s political discussions because disenfranchisement still happens. 

“These arguments today over gerrymandering, voting rights and particularly the Republican Party… make it harder for groups that might tend to vote Democratic,” Campbell said.