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Events | Featured | NewsJanuary 10, 2022

Slate of 2022 MLK Week Events Announced

Written By: Rachel Rodemann Putman

UPDATE: Events will now be held virtually. Join the Panel Discussion Monday, Jan 17., live at 8 a.m.

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has announced a slate of January events sponsored by the university's MLK Celebrate the Dream Team, celebrating and honoring the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"It's important that we celebrate Dr. King's lasting impact through campus-wide events because these events bring together the River Valley community and the university community through shared experiences and education," said John Blue, executive director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UAFS. 

Beyond sharing the celebration with those outside the university community, Blue said the events will also enable a generation that may feel less personally connected with Dr. King's teachings and the influence of the civil rights movement to understand more personally. 

"Younger generations don't have the same direct experiences with Dr. King as their parents or grandparents did. Though huge strides have been made in civil rights since his assassination that tragic day in 1968, students today may not have that individual connection with the movement. We hope to bring that connection back through the fireside chats, service opportunities, and shared meals we have planned this month."

This year's events will be united under the theme, Living the Maladjusted Life: Always Putting Others First, inspired by Dr. King's Dec. 18, 1963, speech on the campus of Western Michigan University.  

"This word, maladjusted, is the ringing cry to modern child psychology," said Dr. King. "Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well‐adjusted life … But I say to you, my friends … there are certain things in our nation and in the world (about) which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of goodwill will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of God's children smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence."

"This theme is about not adjusting to or giving in to the typical current state of our society where fear, division, self-centeredness, xenophobia, and a multitude of 'isms' dominate the very psyche of our communities," said Jackie Flake, pastor of Community Bible Church of Fort Smith. "This year's theme is a call to live differently, to refuse the acceptable norms that hurt, harm, and hinder individuals and communities from flourishing. As Reverend Dr. King would say, 'to proudly live maladjusted' is to seek to put others first."

In October 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, slated this year for Jan. 17, was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986.

This year's commemorative activities include a prayer service, a breakfast, educational sessions, school supply and peanut butter drives, and fireside chats. Face masks will be required for all indoor events, and all gatherings will be contingent on safety as led by CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidance for gathering.


Events include:


Monday, Jan. 17:

MLK Week Community Panel Discussion

The annual MLK Panel Discussion will begin at 8 a.m. on Zoom, featuring panelists from the Community Clearing House, Literacy Council, Salvation Army, Crisis Stabilization Unit. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill will moderate it.

A peanut butter drive will be held with collection boxes at the Stubblefield Center entrance and in the Campus Center entrance from Jan. 12-20. Jars collected will benefit the River Valley Regional Food Bank. Peanut butter is a shelf-stable source of protein that is highly coveted by food banks and the families and children who depend on them. Average-sized jars of peanut butter can provide 15 meals when paired with a loaf of bread. A peanut butter sandwich is a nutritionally satisfying meal with 7 grams of protein and more than 30 essential vitamins and nutrients per serving.


Wednesday, Jan. 19

MLK Week Fireside Chat: Putting the Literacy of Others First

A fireside chat will take place at noon on Zoom featuring Bente Eriksen, executive director of the Literacy Council of Western Arkansas.


Friday, Jan. 21

MLK Week Fireside Chat: Putting the Mental Health of Others First

A fireside chat will take place at noon on Zoom featuring Joey Potts, Program Director at the Sebastian County Crisis Stabilization Unit.


Jan. 10 – Jan. 20

A school supply drive benefitting regional students will be held throughout the week in honor of Dr. King's commitment to education. Collection boxes will be in the Campus Center.