UW marks MLK Week with activities, events

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” Beginning next week, the University of Washington community will join together in action to celebrate not just Dr. King’s legacy, commitment to justice, and vision of equality, but also the generations of activists who’ve fought for and won civil rights

Here’s what will be happening across all three UW campuses as communities come together in the spirit of serving others, educating oneself, remembering the past, and working toward a more peaceable, equitable future.


Black History 101 Mobile Museum: The Signature Series

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Monday, January 14 and Tuesday, January 15
Mary Gates Hall Commons

This unique exhibit is called The Signature Series and features over 150 original signatures of historical figures from as early as Wentworth Cheswell, the first Black elected public official in the United States in 1848, to Serena Williams, eight time #1 ranked tennis star.  The photographs, letters, magazines, and other ephemera reflect African American contributions and achievement in the fields of science, sports, education, religion, politics, art and entertainment.  This material will be juxtaposed to artifacts seen as disturbing and offensive, showing the harsh reality of the countless historical obstacles African Americans have faced and continue to face in society.


“The Truth Hurts: Black History, Honesty, and Healing the Racial Divide”

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Monday, January 14
Mary Gates Hall 171

Don’t miss out on this important lecture by Khalid el-Hakim, educator, activist, and founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum.


MLK Birthday Party

11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 15
Mary Gates Hall, Suite 171

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday January 15
Ethnic Cultural Center

Celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with birthday cake, celebratory music, opportunities to engage with MLK’s legacy through conversation, #UWMLKWEEK swag, and t-shirt pick-up for those who registered for a Day of Service project through the United Way of King County. (More information on this below!)


Othello-UW Commons Open House Celebration

4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Wednesday, January 16
Othello-UW Commons

Save the date for an open house in celebration of the new Othello-UW Commons, a learning and collaboration space for faculty, staff, students and community partners. Enjoy live music, local food, and fun activities. Classes, workshops, study hours, and special events at the commons start in January. Check it out at uw.edu/othello.


20th Anniversary Celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 17
Hogness Auditorium – 1959 NE Pacific Str. Seattle, WA 98195

UW Health Sciences and UW Medical Center are hosting a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King and honoring UW staff, faculty, and students for outstanding community service. There is a permanent plaque in the Health Sciences Lobby honoring all of the past and present Distinguished Service Award recipients. This year is the 20th annual celebration! They’ll have a special panel discussion about the role of health equity in serving the community. For additional information, visit https://uwmlktribute.eventbrite.com.


From Incarceration to Education (UW Bothell)

Thursday, January 17, 2019
Mobius Hall, 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Cascadia Activities Board, UWB Campus Events Board, the Diversity Center and University Beyond Bars will be hosting a community screening of the documentary From Incarceration To Education, a film about formerly incarcerated students at UC Berkeley and their road to higher education. A panel discussion will follow the screening with the film director, film crew and formerly incarcerated students. An information session with University Beyond Bars and a socially-engaged art project will wrap up the event.

How We Got Here: The History & Impact of Immigration into the United States

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 19
Othello-UW Commons 

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute hosts speaker David Fenner, an Affiliate Faculty to the Jackson School of International Studies, to discuss immigration in the United States. 


Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition Youth Committee Hip-Hop Show

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m
Sunday, January 20
Langston Hughes Center

This show features youth performers organized by MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition Youth Committee. All ages are welcome for this lively event where performers bring light to the issues of the day through song, dance, and spoken word. Refreshments will be served.  If you’re interested in performing, do not hesitate! Click here to sign up and learn more.


MLK Seattle: Community Celebration, Resource Fair, Rally, and March

8:30 a.m. start, times vary by event
Monday, January 21
Garfield High School

Every year the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition aims to create tangible change in the community. On the 37th Annual MLK Day Celebration at Garfield High School the coalition is celebrating with the theme Affirmative Action = JUSTICE.  This year, the coalition is backing I-1000 which would redefine affirmative action in Washington, providing equal opportunities through recruitment, hiring, outreach, training, goal-setting and other methods designed to increase diversity. On MLK Day, join the coalition in community celebration, workshops, a rally, and a march. All events are free! Additional details will be posted on the event website. Find the coalition on Facebook or at #MLKSeattle.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action (UW Bothell)

Monday, January 21, 2019
Olympia, WA / All day
Join ASUWB as they travel down to Olympia to meet with State Senators and Representatives to advocate for the needs of UWB students! Legislators want to hear your story because your voice matters! The group will meet at the ARC early in the morning and head down to Olympia together. Transportation will be provided via U-Cars. RSVP here.

2019 MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast (UW Tacoma)

Monday, January 21, 2019
University Y Student Center
8 – 10:30 A.M.

The annual MLK Unity Breakfast will be held on January 21, 2019 to recognize and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and his historic civic leadership that inspired a nation to strive for equality. This gathering honors the message of Dr. King and the progress he continues to inspire. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Boyce Watkins, one of the world’s leading financial scholars and social commentators.


MLK Day of Service

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Monday, January 21
Various locations

Each year, the University of Washington — in partnership with United Way of King County — hosts the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, an event that engages nearly 3,000 volunteers in day-long service projects throughout King County. These projects provide vital people-power to organizations that support our county’s most vulnerable populations. Register for service projects, as a group or as an individual, through Thursday, January 11, by visiting the United Way of King County volunteer website. This event is part of the United We Serve initiative, which calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our nations most pressing problems.


“The Hate U Give” Film Screening & Discussion (UW Bothell)

Wednesday, January 23, 2018
ARC Overlook
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Film Screening
7:30-8:30 p.m. Discussion
The Black Student Union, Social Justice Organizers, and Diversity Center present a film screening and discussion of The Hate U Give. Dinner provided.

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Sekou (UW Bothell)

Thursday, January 24, 2018
ARC Overlook, 6 p.m.

Cascadia Student Life and UW Bothell ACT are bringing Reverend Osagyefo Sekou to campus to talk about the legacy of Dr. King and how his work is connected to the Black Lives Matter movement. Rev Sekou is a Dr. King scholar and frontline Black Lives Matters activist. He will share historical data and draw connections to the current Black Lives Matter Movement, in a talk called “This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Civil Rights Movement: Black Lives Matter and The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Learn more about how one of the most admired figures in United States History has been used as a weapon to denigrate BLM activists.


Mary’s Place Service Project

Saturday January 26, 2019
Mary’s Place Northshore Family Center
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Come join ACT for a day of self care at Mary’s Place in Kenmore! Mary’s Place is a family shelter serving families from diverse backgrounds experiencing homelessness. During our service project, we’ll be helping 80+ individuals practice self-care by using items such as lotions and makeup. Background check required. Registration for Mary’s Place Service Project.

How can I participate as a volunteer?

Registration for service projects is now open! Use the search filters to find the best fit and note that while most projects will be held on Monday, January 21, there are MLK service projects between January 16 and 27.

There are two ways to volunteer during MLK Day service. You can sign up through the United Way of King County website to be a project leader (then recruit your team!) or you can sign up as an individual.

How can my organization host volunteers?

Your organization can be part of this event by listing your MLK Day volunteer projects with United Way! Priority project registration for 2019 has passed…but if you’re interested in listing a last minute volunteer opportunity, please contact the team at volunteers@uwkc.org for help listing your opportunity!

A few things you should know about the MLK Day of Service through United Way of King County:

  • Projects typically take place on the Monday MLK Day Holiday and last 3-6 hours. Projects between January 16 and 27 are welcome!
  • Projects must take place in King County.
  • To submit a project, you must be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, school, park or community group.
  • Project hosts (that’s you!) must be able to provide all necessary supplies for the project.
  • Indoor and family-friendly projects are strongly encouraged (though all projects are welcome).
  • Projects that include an element of social justice or address racial disparities (for example: projects supporting under served populations or sharing information on your target populations with volunteers and/or ending your project with a reflection) are also encouraged.
  • United Way will be working hard to promote this event, but cannot guarantee that all projects will be selected by a volunteer group. For each project you submit, United Way of King County will then work to engage community resources to fulfill your service opportunity. You will be notified when volunteers join your project.

Contact volunteers@uwkc.org with questions about posting projects!


No matter what you do for MLK Week, make sure to take some time to reflect on his great leadership and important messages. For all of us here at the University of Washington, let’s use our day off to spread a little sunshine and love within our community.

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