The University of Michigan-Flint will continue its tradition of service in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 21, 2013. Classes will not be in session on that date, but all members of the UM-Flint campus community are encouraged to participate in the annual Day of Service by volunteering their time at various sites around Genesee County.
The theme for this year’s Day of Service is The Re-birth of Civil Rights: A New Movement for a New Generation. This theme challenges students, faculty, and staff to consider, for a moment, our roles in affecting social change.
Crystal Flynn in UM-Flint’s Diversity Education Services believes that in the nearly 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, much has changed, and yet much has not.
“Whether in the classroom or beyond, we hope to inspire, empower, and incite our own dialogue with events and activities that remind us of Dr. King’s dream of racial and economic equality,” noted Flynn.
Throughout the month of January there are many community events taking place. In addition to the Day of Service activities on January 21, people may gather to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama as he is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States in the Loving Cultural Center in the University Center. A complete listing of all events for the month can be found on the MLK Day 2013 website.
The powerful image of the Dr. King’s police mug shot used in this year’s theme was selected by UM-Flint alumnus and graphic artist James Thigpen. The image will be used on all promotional material related to the Day of Service, including volunteer T-shirts.
“The title for this year’s MLK Day of Service inspires me” said Thigpen. “It shows me that the work is not done. It shows me how recent the history of the movement actually is. I just didn’t want to soften the blow.”
His selection of that particular photo was based on memories of watching a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement about the road to the Lincoln Memorial.
“It is where Dr. King delivered his most famous ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’ There was footage in the documentary of a young man being humiliated in front of a crowd during a sit-in protest. At one point someone threw what seemed to be a carton of milk right at his head. He pulled himself up and continued to sit there after obviously being beaten. He never became as violent as his adversaries,” remembers Thigpen. “These individuals were tough, because Dr. King was a tough leader. I wanted to portray him that way.”