Upper Iowa University students attending the third-annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day teach-in spent a day learning about one of America's most influential people. At the conclusion of the day, students received a special T-shirt to commemorate the teachings of Dr. King.
FAYETTE, Iowa (January 24, 2014) – In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Upper Iowa University hosted a special day-long event dedicated to discussing social justice and the impact of one man on the nation. The third-annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day teach-in was conducted Monday, January 20, and featured professors from the School of Liberal Arts, School of Business, School of Science and Mathematics, and the Andres School of Education.
"The Martin Luther King Jr. teach-in at Upper Iowa is a great way for us to reach out to students across campus and raise the awareness of who King was and the social injustices that he fought to reveal and to stop," said Dr. Eric Eller, associate professor of international business. "Dr. King had such a vision for what this country could be, and it is important to reflect on how far we've come, and more importantly, how much farther we have to go.
"In 1968, King gave a moving sermon in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He said, 'This is the question facing America. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. American has not met its obligations and its responsibilities to the poor.' It's as true now as it was in 1968. A day-long lecture series where we can engage our students – our next generation of leaders – in discussion about the needs of our nation, helps put into perspective what more we can do to end racism, poverty and hunger. We need to be cognizant of the struggles others are facing."
Kicking off the day was a lecture entitled "Martin Luther King Jr. and the Strategy of Non-Violence." by Dr. Tom Jorsch, assistant professor of history. The African American history class with Dr. Lisa Guinn, assistant professor of history, presented "Voices of Justice: From Slavery to King," reading excerpts from individuals whose works influenced King. They included slaves, abolitionists, political leaders and black grass-roots activists, who in their own writings, demonstrated the rhetoric of justice that began in slavery and continued through the Civil Rights Movement.
Jorsch, along with Dr. Brian McQueen, assistant professor of sociology, and the Honors 120 class, conducted a lecture entitled, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." For the fourth session "Structural Racism in U.S. Society," McQueen explained the roots of structural discrimination, while Dr. Kevin Mackin, assistant professor of education, addressed the consequences of structural racism in the American educational system, and Redmond Humphrey, assistant professor of management, discussed structural racism in the economy and access to jobs. Rounding of the day was "I Have a Dream," presented by Eller.
As part of the event, Upper Iowa students wrote nearly 50 letters to military service men and women with connections to the University and created 36 valentines for people living in area nursing homes. Several sets of educational flashcards were also made for groups travelling abroad to share with children, and food items were collected for donation to the Fayette County Food Shelf.
In the evening, the award-winning documentary "Freedom on my Mind" was shown. The film, winner of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians awards for best documentary and an Academy Award nominee, tells the story of the Mississippi freedom movement in the early 1960s when a handful of young activists changed history. Following its presentation, a panel discussion led by Dr. Katrina Farren-Eller, assistant professor of English, Dr. Kata McCarville, associate professor of geosciences, and UIU student JaQuann Rush provided an opportunity for students to reflect and discuss the information shared in the film.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to more than 6,200 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.
Monica Bayer Heaton
Associate Vice President for Communication and Marketing