MLK Day Celebrations Continue Even Amongst COVID-19 Restrictions

By Kimberly Cortez | January 17, 2022 4:13pm
The MLK Opening Vigil Ceremony was held it the Chapel of Christ the Teacher.
Media Credit: Marek Corsello / The Beacon

UP is currently in the midst of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, which is centered on the theme of “(Re)Claiming Black Joy.” However, there have been some changes due to the omicron COVID-19 variant. 

This year marks the third time UP has formally celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and while students and faculty will have the day off, the University invites the community to reflect on King’s work and how it relates to life on campus. 

“On one level, celebrating MLK Day is about honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His contributions to equity and justice should never be forgotten,” Associate Provost For International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion Dr. Eduardo Contreras Jr, said. 

“On another level, this day is a reminder that we haven’t achieved Dr. King’s dream,” Contreras continued. “We must continue to build on Dr. King’s work by serving our communities and finding ways to advocate for, and uphold principles of: justice, equity, and individual dignity. Obviously, we should do this beyond just one day, but the official holiday is a significant, annual, cue.” 

The MLK Day On celebration will be a multi-day event all following UP’s COVID-19 precautions. This includes the requirement of masks in indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status and registration for events in advance.  

The celebration kicked off on Friday, Jan. 14, with the (Re)Claiming Black Joy Opening Vigil Celebration at the Chapel of Christ the Teacher. The vigil featured the Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir, student readings, candle lightings and a Call-to-Action for all.

The Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir singing.
by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

Chapel Clean-UP, a clean-up and meditative event for people to reflect on King’s beliefs on spiritual practices of prayer and worship and how they translate to create meaningful action was held on Saturday, Jan. 15.

Participating Residence Halls will also be able to write cards for persons residing in assisted living facilities that same day as part of the celebration. This includes Kenna Hall, Fields Hall, Schoenfeldt Hall and Shipstad Hall.

“For members of the campus community who do not live on campus and would like to participate in creating cards with others, the Moreau Center for Service and Justice will host a session at 1:30 p.m. in the lounge of St. Mary's Student Center. It is limited to 20 people at any given time," Schoenfeldt Hall Director Tshombé Brown, said.

Advisor of The Black Student Union Tshombé Brown speaking during the MLK Opening Vigil Ceremony.
by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

On Jan. 22, the campus will be holding the MLK Day Campus Collaborative teach-in: Defining Abolition: Black People Liberate Themselves. It will focus on the history, theory, and practice of abolition as well as the understanding of white supremacy and the liberation of Black people. 

The performance by The Blackonteurs scheduled for Jan. 17, has been postponed for later this spring semester due to COVID-19 restrictions. Information about the performance will be updated later according to Dr. Eduardo Contreras Jr.

The latest updates and registration for all events can be found here

Kimberly Cortez is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at