On the third Monday in January, our nation commemorates the life and memory of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jackson College does not close its campuses on Martin Luther King Jr. Day but, like many other institutions of higher education around the nation, utilizes the national holiday as a day of bringing awareness to, reflecting on and honoring the commitment, the life, and the legacy of this national hero. As an institution of education, we believe we would better serve Dr. King’s legacy not by canceling classes to take a day off but to uniquely utilize the day to enhance the legacy and reflect on the things that were important to King — diversity and equality for all the citizens of these United States.
Some of the things the College does every year in its commitment to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. include:
- Supporting the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Diversity Breakfast, with many of the College’s Board of Trustees, administration, staff and students all attending together.
- Co-hosting a special radio program every year in honor of Dr. MLK Jr.’s life and legacy.
- Hosting the largest MLK Celebration in the greater Jackson community. It is one of the College’s largest celebrations of any kind, exemplifying the College’s commitment to Dr. King’s life and legacy.
- Establishing a special award, the MLK Medal of Service Award, given each year to the individual/s who best embodies Dr. King’s legacy by committing to diversity, enhancing the black community, and ending racism and discrimination. This is one of the highest honors the College gives and one of the most respected awards in the greater Jackson community.
- The College hosts an MLK Day Forum that invites speakers from around the state and nation to discuss and educate students, staff, faculty, and the greater community on various topics around the life of Dr. MLK Jr., such as diversity, the black community, educational disparities, criminal justice reform, social justice, etc.
- The College attends and supports the local MLK Day community church service held annually at Second Baptist Church which is a predominantly black church in inner-city Jackson.
As these points demonstrate, Jackson College deeply respects and honors the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Additional initiatives to demonstrate Jackson College’s commitment include:
- The College established the Lux et Veritas Committee to foster greater civility, understanding and awareness of matters promoting the equality of all people, no matter their background, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, gender, citizenship status, etc.
- The College established the Woodrow Wilson Multicultural Center, understanding the importance for students of color having a place on campus where they could feel most welcomed, and committing staff and budget for it.
- The College established and annually funds two of the most well-known and respected multicultural student leadership groups in the nation, the Men of Merit and Sisters of Strength. Close to 1,000 students have participated in these groups, and over 100 other institutions of higher education have benchmarked this initiative.
- The College supports and funds an annual historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) national trip, touring some of the leading HBCUs in the nation and understanding transfer agreements. Hundreds of JC students have taken this trip and participated in this life-changing opportunity.