After attending Monday classes today, Yalies will have the opportunity to observe Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday through a constellation of community service, religious and educational events over the next three days.
Events will include a series of programs, activities, lectures and discussions that organizers hope will help promote social equality and justice. Though the celebration was organized by the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Council — which grew out of efforts two years ago to persuade Yale officials to cancel classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — many events will be sponsored by independent organizations.
This is only the second year Yale has cancelled classes for the holiday honoring King. To accommodate the change in schedule, Friday classes will meet on the first Monday of reading week.
Over the weekend, various groups will celebrate King’s legacy through panel discussions, prayer services and a community service project. Dwight Hall will sponsor several community service activities from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
On Monday, the actual holiday, several colleges will hold events including screenings, a talk by former New Haven Black Panther Party member George Edwards and evening performances.
Earlier this week, the Graduate School Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity organized similar events, which included a lecture on the Central Park Five case.
“What these efforts have accomplished is to make it clear to the University that King’s legacy is of great and critical importance and that we should fight for the social justice that has helped us develop a more inclusive society,” said Liza Cariaga-Lo, assistant dean for the Graduate School Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
Student coordinator Lindsey Greene ’04 said she hopes the events will also allow many different people to become involved in the celebration.
“This is a great opportunity to use the name of Dr. King to effect change and show that change needs to be made,” Greene said. “We are trying to reach people who normally get involved in the campus and also to reach those who might not normally get involved.”
Adrian Hong ’05, who helped coordinate the Communiversity Day activities that will take place at Payne-Whitney Gymnasium on Saturday, said that this weekend’s events are about more than commemorating King.
Communiversity Day will feature a Wall of Dreams where students and community members can write down and share their thoughts on how best to achieve King’s vision for a harmonious future and workshops for students from Roberto Clemente Elementary School.
“No matter how much rhetoric goes on in the ivory tower, it all means nothing until we do something and educate people,” Hong said.
Student coordinator John Johnson ’03 said the Yale administration had been helpful in sponsoring the events.
“The good thing about how the funding is set up is that the events are coordinated by students, but we don’t have to depend on only student resources,” Johnson said.
While some students bemoaned the hassles of having to attend next Monday’s classes today, others said that the problems of a scheduling change are worth it.
Farley Neasman ’06 said that he intends to attend some of the planned events.
“This is not a black thing,” Neasman said. “This is something everyone should be interested in.”
Johnson said he is optimistic that most students will participate in the celebration during their day off.
“We have done our best to have events for everyone,” Johnson said. “With community service, religious, and discussion activities we have a good holistic approach.”