Plan your MLK weekend: How and where to get involved


Blake Dover

January 16th, 2017 – Vanderbilt students and faculty gather to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the annual MLK Day march in Nashville.

Sam Zern, Editor in Chief

On Monday, Jan. 15, Vanderbilt will take the day off of classes in observance of MLK Day, celebrating what would have been the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday. While there won’t be classes that day, the university and various student organizations will host a number of events honoring King’s impact. 

In an effort to increase student engagement with events throughout the weekend, Vanderbilt Student Government launched the #IStandWithJustice campaign, featuring student leaders sharing why MLK Day is significant to them.

“The #IStandWithJustice campaign is a new promotional strategy for MLK Day. The students on the planning committee wanted to find a way to remind campus why the holiday is celebrated in the first place,” VSG president Jami Cox said. “By asking a few students why they believe MLK Day is important, we hope to inspire other students to participate in the day’s activities. We are also encouraging people to use the hashtag throughout the week and on Jan. 15 to share their thoughts as well.”


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In addition to the campaign, the university will host a number of events celebrating the life of King throughout the weekend. The commemoration of King’s legacy will begin with a Friday kickoff at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, followed by Vanderbilt’s annual Weekend of Service and culminate in a keynote address by professor Michael Eric Dyson entitled “Justice through Collective Action: Fighting Oppression without Suppression.”

Click below to see all MLK weekend events:

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MLK Kickoff
Friday, January 12 at 12:00 p.m.
Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
Celebrate the beginning of MLK weekend with soul food and fellowship

Nashville Freedom March
Monday, January 15 at 9:00 a.m.
Kirkland Circle and Murray Circle, buses will leave at 9:20 a.m.
Buses will drop students off at the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church at 10:00 a.m. and will make its way to TSU’s Gentry Center by 12:00 p.m. Busses will be available to transport students back to campus. Students may sign up for the march here.

Nashville Freedom Ride
Monday, January 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Branscomb Circle
Kwame Lillard, Nashville Freedom Rider, will lead a tour of significant Nashville civil rights sites. Students must RSVP to the event.

Souls of the Dream: MLK Lunchtime Performances
Monday, January 15 at 11:30 a.m.
Sarratt Cinema
Come enjoy box lunches and performances by Melanated and Vanderbilt Spoken Word.

MLK Keynote Address: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Monday, January 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Langford Auditorium
Tickets are available at the Sarratt Cinema Box Office prior to the event and remaining tickets will be available in the Langford Auditorium lobby at 6:15 p.m.  


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Teach-In: Activism and Sports
Monday, January 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Sarratt Cinema
Lead by Dr. Brandon Byrd

Teach-In: Self-Care is Community Care: Practices for Building Healing and Justice
Monday, January 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Ingram Commons MPR
Lead by Lyndsey Godwin and Rev. Shantell Hinton

Teach-In: Freedom of Expression without Suppression of Speech
Monday, January 15 from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Sarratt Cinema
Lead by Dr. Frank Dobson and Carin Brown

Teach-In: Injustice in the “It” City
Monday, January 15 from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
BCC Auditorium
Lead by Briana Perry


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2018 MLK Weekend of Service
Saturday, January 13 at 5:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Fisk University
The day will begin at Fisk University with a shared meal and a brief program before participants are bussed to various service sites around Nashville, where they will spend the day volunteering.

Blood Drive with the American Red Cross
Monday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m
Vanderbilt Hillel
Hillel will be hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross as part of their commitment to service for MLK Day.