Public Affairs, The California State University

Honoring a Leader of Change through Peaceful Action

By Erik Fallis

All CSU campuses are closed on Monday, Jan. 21 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dedication to change through peaceful action.  Even though many campuses have not yet begun their academic sessions, activities throughout the university will celebrate King’s life and lasting impact.

In particular, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San José State held an annual birthday celebration of its namesake on Jan. 15 with a related craft session on Jan. 18 and concert on Jan. 20.

Following King’s example, numerous CSU activities are committed to service, reflection and learning.

Service

CSU Bakersfield joins with Stop the Violence to pick up trash and paint over graffiti throughout local neighborhoods as part of a collective cleanup effort.  Stop the Violence combats gang violence by developing youth leadership close collaboration with CSU Bakersfield, the Boys & Girls Club and the Black Chamber of Commerce.

CSU Channel Islands holds its Day of Service at Food Share Inc. on Jan. 25.  The non-profit organization works to alleviate hunger in Ventura County.  CSU Channel Islands faculty, staff and students also publicly perform renditions of King’s speeches on Jan. 24.

CSU East Bay participates in the Off-Campus Service Project: Planting Trees with Urban Releaf.  The non-profit addresses the needs of communities that have little to no greenery or tree canopy, primarily in under-served neighborhoods.  CSU East Bay also hosts a number of events when campus reopens, including an MLK Festival on Jan. 23.

CSU Monterey Bay observes King’s birthday by participating in a march in Seaside and helping with a food and clothing drive in Marina.  This observance also marks the start of the university’s King/Chavez Semester of Service Challenge, a 70-day community service drive that runs through Cesar Chavez Day, March 31.

Sacramento State marks the beginning of the University’s Alternative Break program, with students contributing their time and energy to improve the greater Sacramento community.  Through Jan. 25, about 95 students volunteer at a number of agencies, including the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, Meals on Wheels by ACC, a community garden in collaboration with Soil Born Farms and Oak Park SOL, and the Wildlife Care Association.

Reflection

Dr. Munashe Furusa, interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at CSU Dominguez Hills, served as the feature speaker at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Space and Missile Systems Center’s special observance of MLK Day on Jan. 16.

Dr. King in the Fresno State Peace GardenFresno State pays tribute to King during a garlanding ceremony of an on-campus monument of the civil rights leader on Jan. 23.  The public may bring flowers to leave at the base of the MLK statue following the garlanding ceremony.  An open microphone is available for participants to provide reflections.

San Diego State participates in the San Diego Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Jan. 20.  The campus community marches as a unified delegation dressed in red and black.

Sonoma State’s Office of Residential Life hosts MLK Project 2013, giving students the opportunity to share their thoughts, words, performances, and experiences related to King’s values and ideals.  The event is open to all Sonoma State students and held on Feb. 25.

Learning

CSU Fullerton, where students return in late January, holds a wide range of educational events in February to correspond with Black History Month.  These public events include lectures, a conference, entertainment and an awards ceremony.  The events take on a wide range of topics including representations in entertainment, health issues, civil rights history, the politics of racial inequality, and discussions of gender and sexuality.

Cal State L.A. presents the Kinsey Collection of African American items of historical and cultural value spanning Bernard and Shirley Kinsey’s more than 40-year marriage and 400 years of African American history.  The Kinseys share both their collection and their story of personal, professional, and academic success.

San Francisco State alumna Nancy Arms Simon, a lecturer in SFSU’s Museum Studies department, curates an exhibit called “Occupation!” that looks at the civil rights movement in San Francisco during the 1960s, including the role SFSU students and faculty played in the struggle.  The exhibit uses news footage, photos, and other items to illustrate the battles in San Francisco against unequal pay, housing discrimination and other economic injustices, and is on display in SF State’s J. Paul Leonard Library through Feb. 15.