News

MLK Day event funding ‘beyond’ past years for Obama inauguration

United Black Students and the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations Committee of the University of Miami launched their annual MLK Day events at the University Center on Tuesday, but with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, this year’s series of events will be supported by extra university funding.

“The funding we received this year was significantly larger than that of previous years because of the addition of the inaugural watch party,” said junior Lionel Moise, first vice president of United Black Students and the MLK Celebrations Committee chair for 2009.

Moise could not comment on the exact amount of funding but said that this year’s celebration, with its theme “Beyond the Dream,” is expected to be one of the biggest the university has seen so far.

The MLK Celebrations Committee received financial and logistical support from the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Office of the President, Auxiliary Services, Canes Night Live, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Rathskeller and the School of Communication.

“The administrators helped transform our dream into a reality in terms of funding, planning and ideas,” Moise said.

With the additional funding, event organizers intend to spread a special message and have planned unique activities.

“With the unity exhibition we’re getting different ethnicities together, and with the oratorical competition we’re engaging our youth,” Moise said. “It’s not just about being African American or fighting color lines.”

The unity exhibition and oratorical competition are among the organization’s planned events geared toward changing the way people perceive others and focusing on unity and equality. The committee is planning on taking King’s dream of equality to the next level by making sure their events reach as many groups of people as possible.

The event’s opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, along with Obama’s inauguration, and began with a speech by Moise who quoted the words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

The opening ceremony is the first of many events over the next two weeks, which will include an oratorical competition for high school males, the MLK Day of Service, “The Dream Defined” Unity exhibition, and a discussion forum on King’s beliefs. The MLK Committee will also be collecting donations in the breezeway which will be presented to the Build the Dream Foundation at the closing ceremony next Wednesday.

The celebration planned for this year will go further than just celebrating historical events. As Moise said, this year’s events will be a “great time for everyone to celebrate, whether you are Democratic or Republican.”

Quick Facts

  • UBS was founded in 1967.
  • UBS has been commemorating MLK’s life for over 10 years; it began as a one-day event and slowly evolved into a two-week celebration.
  • The idea of combining the MLK opening ceremony with the inaugural watch party was a student initiative that was met with great support from university administrators.
  • Tuesday’s event was made into a real party with the addition of catered food and free giveaways.
  • President Shalala received a commemorative gift basket as well as claiming a first row seat at the inaugural watch party along with some colleagues.
  • The event was so big, cameramen from channel 10 and Telemundo attended.
  • A committee of over 25 students from UBS as well as many administrators planned Tuesday’s event.
  • Alpha Phi Alpha will be hosting the male oratorical competition which will be presenting a scholarship to the winner of the competition.
  • Over 150 volunteers will be participating in the MLK Day of Service which will be covering eight different sites in Miami, including one on campus.
  • All of the school’s organizations are invited to the Rock for the Unity exhibition to explain what the dream means to their members.
  • Hecht is cosponsoring the unity forum.
  • In 1996, a small group in Philadelphia turned MLK day into a day of service.
  • MLK’s birthday was observed as a national holiday in 1986.
  • Obama’s hesitance during the inaugural oath was due to Chief Justice Roberts’ skipping over some sections of the oath.
  • A schedule of MLK events is posted on the UC bulletin boards.
January 21, 2009

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Alexandra Leon

Senior News Writer


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