Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Symposium on Social Change

January 15 thru January 31, 2020

Each year, during the month of January, the University of Pennsylvania and our surrounding communities come together to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The commemoration reminds us of our interdependence and reaffirms our commitment to the betterment of our communities through civility and service.

Opening our doors to embrace programming and visitors dedicated to realizing Dr. King's vision transforms the campus. Sharing our strengths and diversity as we commemorate Dr. King has an impact that can be felt across both the University of Pennsylvania’s campus and the Philadelphia community as a whole.

The Day of Service is scheduled for – Monday, January 20, 2020 so come out and participate in:

Day of Service Breakfast
8:30 am – 10:00 am

Children’s Banner Painting (adult supervision required)
10:00 am – 12:30 pm

A Pocketful of Toiletries (constructing a bag that will be filled with personal items specifically geared toward women)
10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Penn Reads (creating audiobooks)
WIC Seminar Room 124, Van Pelt Library
9:30 am – 1:00 pm

Helping Hands (creating gifts that will be donated to West Philadelphia area shelters)
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Clothing Drive (clothing donated to Career Wardrobe for women and men reentering the workplace)
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

"So You Want to Go to College": College Admission & Financial Aid Process (high school students are invited; registration required)
12:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Community Beautification Projects
Laura Sims Skatehouse
S. Weir Mitchell School
Andrew Hamilton School
Third Antioch Home School Center
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Candlelight Vigil (walk through campus in honor of Dr. King)
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

It is also our tradition to provide cleaning and beautification volunteer services off campus at designated sites in the West Philadelphia area.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is greeted at the University Museum on "Law Day USA", May 1, 1965. (Photo by Bernato, courtesy the University Archives)

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).

Highlighted Programs:

January 15, 2020 --- 19th Annual MLK Lecture in Social Justice with Angela Davis & Gina Dent
January 22, 2020 --- Glory: A Life Among Legends - reading and book signing
January 23, 2020 --- Interfaith Program
January 28, 2020 -- What Can Colleges & Universities Do re: Cultural Competency/ Diverse Classroom
January 29, 2020 --- Common Ground: Dismantling Oppression Olympics
January 30, 2020 --- From King to Kendrick – a discussion on activism through the medium of music
January 31, 2020 --- Jazz for King

We are always looking for student organizations to sponsor other programs that can fit under the umbrella of the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Symposium. If you have any ideas for additional programming, please contact us at aarc@pobox.upenn.edu.

Martin Luther King, Jr. with his daughter Yolanda King

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his daughter Yolanda King. (Photo by James Karales)


It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we've got to know somehow that it's right to be honest and just with our brothers. It's not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we've got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don't learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Address at the Fiftieth Anual NAACP Convention, 17 July 1959, New York.

Even semantics have conspired to make that which is black seem ugly and degrading. In Roget’s Thesaurus there are 120 synonyms for blackness and at least 60 of them are offensive. There are some 134 synonyms for whiteness and all are favorable. A white lie is better than a black lie. The most degenerate member of a family is a "black sheep."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.