OSU marks MLK’s legacy with service, celebration

Students hold memorial for Martin Luther King Jr., 1968

Students hold memorial for Martin Luther King Jr., 1968

Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, sparked immediate reaction from the OSU community. After he was killed, some advocated violence – In The Lantern, one student called for people to pick up their guns – while others carried on his strategy of peaceful protest.

On April 7, a group of about 150 students marched from the Ohio Union to the Ohio State Fairgrounds. According to The Lantern, another group of students removed the American flag flying outside of Bricker Hall and took it to then-Provost John Corbally, saying a flag that represented violence should not hang even at half-mast for a man who stood for nonviolence. On April 9, Novice Fawcett ordered classes cancelled to honor King’s memory.

That year, the May Week Committee and Traditions Board decided that all proceeds made from festivities that week would be used to start a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fund scholarship for incoming students, based on scholastic ability and need. Until then, the profits had gone to the United Appeal fund. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion now administers the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship program.

In 1972, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (then called the Office of Minority Affairs) began its annual Martin Luther King Celebration, which has included the announcement of the scholarship winners. This year, Danny Glover is the featured speaker. (See more details at http://odi.osu.edu/.)

Students work on a project during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, 2004

Students work on a project during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, 2004

In 1990, the College of the Arts teamed up with the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for the Performing and Cultural Arts to provide arts education for minority students. The result was the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for the Arts. The institute’s mission was to first train minority teachers in the arts. Ohio State provided scholarships to graduate students for training. Classes for students in grades 4-12 in dance, theater, music, and visual arts were also established.

In 1999, Project Community at the Ohio Union started the annual MLK Day of Service at Ohio State. Students, faculty and staff volunteer that day on various community service projects that target children, literacy, senior citizens and the homeless. This year, OSU’s Pay It Forward and  the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center will sponsor the event, which is expected to attract 1,000 volunteers. (For details, see http://ohiounion.osu.edu/get_involved/csls/mlkday.)

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