Race has long been one of the central issues at this university, in part due to its location on the South Side of Chicago. While our campus has celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in years past, this is the first year in which the administration has officially recognized the holiday by suspending all university activities to promote a more substantial observance.
By taking such a step, the University is embracing Dr. Kings legacy in a way it never has before. The decision to officially observe MLK day affords students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to reflect on Dr. Kings contributions without the added stresses of coursework and a busy U of C schedule. Many more students attended this years memorial service for Dr. King than in years past.
With a tradition-breaking decision from a university that is known for its insistence on tradition, making MLK Day an academic holiday reminds us how important it is to embrace its community connections and to reflect on matters of race, which have been talked about more than any issue on this campus especially in recent months. Students should take advantage of the numerous events offered throughout the week in commemoration of Dr. King. More information and a full schedule can be found on the website, mlk.uchicago.edu.
Now that the University has decided to officially celebrate the holiday, let us make sure we are doing it right. It is critical that the University community decides exactly how it might want to observe MLK Day in the future. Perhaps memorials and events could be more inclusive of Dr. Kings own words, featuring videos or quotations from his speeches. Also, the UCSC should be commended on continuing its tradition of the day of service. More students should get involved. This week should allow the University community not only to commemorate Dr. King but also to continue the discussion on how best to remember him in the future.