With the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quickly approaching, Western students and community members will be able to speak, learn and celebrate the remembrance of King at the two-day Martin Luther King Jr. celebration hosted by the Associated Students Ethnic Student Center, the Black Student Union and Western’s Center for Education, Equity and Diversity. The two-day event will begin Jan. 11.

The celebration will take place over two days to give people more of an opportunity to be educated on King’s impact in the word, BSU President Danela Butler said.

The first event, titled “Valuing Our Voices: Let us Speak!” will be an open dialogue held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the Center for Education, Equity and Diversity in Miller Hall. The open dialogue will reflect the vision of King and the nation’s progress in relation to his vision, center co-coordinator Lynda Spaulding said in an email.

Butler said the open dialogue is a free space for both faculty members and students to discuss their own experiences and is designed to compare and contrast different points of view. Participants are not just restricted to speaking and are allowed to tell their story anyway they wish including singing and spoken word, Butler said.

The following day will consist of two events. The first will be a march at 6 p.m. from the Communications Lawn to Red Square, where a candlelight vigil will be held.

The march is not only meant to symbolize the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, it is also intended to tread past fear and doubt to a new beginning as the march leads into the candlelight vigil, Butler said.

“[The march indicates] that the fight is not over and together we will continue to bind together as one and show that we stand for what Martin Luther King stood for,” Butler said. “Observers should look for a good crowd of people holding candles and listening to one of Dr. King’s speeches reflecting on what he was saying and his motives.”

Following the vigil, an event titled “What’s Your Vision: A Night of Expression and Growth,” will be held at 7 p.m. at the Underground Coffeehouse, located on the third floor of the Viking Union.

While King is commonly known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, Butler and the BSU want to educate the community on his other inspirational speeches, she said. 

Butler said she feels the nation has come a long way in fulfilling King’s dreams and visions and hopes this celebration will carry on his lessons around the community.

“We hope that people will have a deeper understanding about Dr. King, reflecting on his legacy and how we all individually and as a community are affected by the dream he gave years ago and what it means to us now,” Butler said. “There is always room for more change to happen knowing as a society we are not perfect.”