Hiram College

Hiram College’s 2018 MLK Celebration will carry a common theme: Courageous Conversations About Race and Community. “Our MLK theme encourages us to open up and sustain safe spaces for all voices to discuss race and other social justice issues in intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful ways.  A part of the courage is rooted in showing up to these events and then being fully present to learn, think, listen, and contribute,” says Associate Dean and Director of Diversity and Inclusion Detra West.

A viewing and discussion of the film “A Day in Black and White” kicks off the celebration beginning Monday, Jan. 15, 2-4 p.m. at Dix Dining Hall in the Kennedy Center. Here, attendees will view a groundbreaking comedy about two close friends, one black and the other white, entangled in a heated discussion about race relations.

“We’re kicking the theme off with a great movie about race, a comedy that addresses tough issues in a very level and comedic way,” describes West.

Anisi Daniels Smith, Ph.D., director of Hiram’s Emerging Scholars Program, and Chris McCreight, College chaplain, will lead a discussion immediately following the film.

“Why All Voices are Needed in the Courageous Conversation About Race,” presented by Christina McVay, assistant professor of Pan African Studies at Kent State University, further celebrates the spirit of Hiram’s MLK event series on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Ballroom. McVay is a past recipient of Kent State’s Diversity Leadership for Teaching and Research Award, Outstanding Teaching Award, Distinguished Honors Faculty Award, and the Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Described by a colleague as “a very necessary and powerful voice in higher level and beyond-skin-deep discussions about race, diversity, and inclusion,” McVay is also the recipient of Ohio Magazine’s Excellence in Education Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award for Northeast Ohio’s Council in Higher Education.

A voter registration drive follows on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Dining Hall and 2-4 p.m. in the Kennedy Center lobby. Attendees interested in registering to vote in the Nov. 6, 2018 elections should arrive with their I.D.s.

“We are encouraging folks to participate in the upcoming national elections by using their vote to make a difference,” West says.

“Soup and Substance Open Mic” on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. in Dix Dining Hall will treat MLK celebrants to a community meal and engaging performances focused on social justice and community themes presented by campus artists. Meanwhile, Hiram’s Black Student Union will present a “50 Shades of Black” fashion show on Friday, Jan. 19, 8 p.m. in Bates Hall, Hayden Auditorium. The show will tell the stories of fashion’s roles in adding definition to conversations about social justice, sacrifices, and courage. Moderated by Daniels Smith and West, this special event will take audience members from Black churches, to lunch counters, to college campuses.

“In the past few years, we have seen what can arguably be considered a steady erosion in society’s willingness to acknowledge social justice as a legitimate goal that has the potential to benefit everyone. Racism is among the many serious social problems facing us and it’s within our power to have a world in which all human beings can live respectfully. No problems get solved through silence nor are they solved through passive aggressive communication such as social media,” West says. “All in all, I and other stakeholders are very excited about the week and hope that participants will leave events feeling uplifted, empowered, and more hopeful about the future of our nation and society as a whole.”

For more details about Hiram’s 2018 MLK Celebration, contact Detra West at westde@hiram.edu or 330-569-5237.