Visits from local leaders to highlight MLK Week

American Civil War Museum CEO Christy Coleman, Rev. Tyrone Nelson, Rep. Donald McEachin and Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras will speak at events Jan. 20-26.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week will feature a series of events from Jan. 20-26. (Photo illustration, University Public Affairs)

Virginia Commonwealth University’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week begins Sunday. A series of events from Jan. 20-26 — including a day of service and keynote remarks from local civic leaders — will offer the university community an opportunity to honor the iconic civil rights leader. 

VCU and community education programs will commemorate King’s leadership, spirit of service and dedication to nonviolence and justice, said Aashir Nasim, Ph.D., vice president for inclusive excellence. Keynote remarks from American Civil War Museum CEO Christy Coleman, Rev. Tyrone Nelson, Rep. Donald McEachin and Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras will focus on King’s legacy and ongoing efforts in the areas of social justice, public education and fair housing. 

“We find ourselves living in an era when the unalienable rights of many are becoming even more compromised than in 1963 by policy decisions that continue to perpetuate inequities in criminal justice, education, employment, health care, housing, and public safety and security,” Nasim said. “To face a jury of one’s peers; to attend schools that prepare all of our children for success; to earn a living at a decent wage; to receive medical treatment when sick; these should be considered rights for all and not just for the privileged few, as each is fundamental to the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There can be nothing more self-evident.”

MLK Celebration Week is hosted by the Division for Inclusive Excellence. Highlights during the week include:

Students stop at Cabell Library last year during the candlelight vigil for Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Marketing)
Students stop at Cabell Library last year during the candlelight vigil for Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

MLK Day of Service

Jan. 21, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Evergreen Cemetery, 50 Evergreen Road

The historic cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of individuals, including notable Richmond leaders Maggie Walker and John Mitchell Jr. Volunteers will travel as a group to a restoration project and then return to campus for a free lunch and small-group reflections. Register online.

Candlelight vigil

Jan. 21, 6 p.m., The Depot, 814 W. Broad St.

This annual event — a silent vigil to commemorate King’s life — will include a march from The Depot to the front of James Branch Cabell Library. 

MLK Legacy Night

Jan. 22, 7-9 p.m., Rams Lounge, University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.

Faculty, staff and students will enjoy music, spoken word and other creative performances that highlight and reflect on King’s legacy.

Keynote speeches

Jan 20-25, various locations 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, is a statement King echoed many times in his written work, sermons and speeches, including in his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and his “I Have a Dream” speech. Local leaders will discuss this recurring theme in a series of keynote remarks:

Rev. Tyrone Nelson, pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
Jan. 20, 6 p.m. (reception at 5 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.

Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum
Jan. 23, 4 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave. 

Jason Kamras, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools
Jan. 24, 2 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave.

Rep. Donald McEachin
Jan. 25, 1 p.m. (doors open at 12:30 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.