Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Event Focuses on Racial Justice Learning

The College has partnered with Team Dynamics to offer a racial justice and inclusion workshop for all members of the Gustavus community.
Posted on January 18th, 2021 by

by Ava Gross ’21

At Gustavus Adolphus College, the celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one traditionally marked by the gathering of Gusties and local community members in Christ Chapel. In a typical year, a renowned speaker is invited to campus to honor Dr. King’s distinguished legacy, remember those that have played an instrumental role in the civil rights movement, and celebrate ongoing efforts to build peace in the world. This year, the College is going a different direction—partnering with Team Dynamics, a racial equity training firm, to offer a virtual workshop for all members of the Gustavus community.

The year 2020 was filled with isolation, loss, grief, and pain. People across the world watched in horror as over a million people lost their lives to coronavirus. The reverberations of the pandemic have been felt all across the world, but people’s experiences with the pandemic have differed. In particular, people of color have disproportionately experienced higher hospitalization and death rates. On top of the pandemic, our country experienced the tragic losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, whose deaths awakened a new wave of calls for racial justice in the United States.

“The planning committee felt strongly that the best way to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this year was to invite the campus into an interactive virtual workshop designed to give us a common language and foundation for the ongoing learning and transformation that is required to truly advance racial equity on campus and in our communities,” explained Chaplain Siri Erickson. 

This year’s virtual event, which will take place on Monday, January 18 from 10 – 11:30 a.m., will be led by Team Dynamics, a team of educators who are experts in facilitating education that begins with identity and builds to assist individuals in developing skills for being anti-racists. Following the MLK Day Celebration, the President’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PCDEI) will launch a series of racial justice and inclusion educational opportunities for Gustavus students, faculty, and staff to continue their learning into spring semester. Erickson, who also chairs the President’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion stated, “In the months and years to come, we will continue to build on this foundational learning and deepen our capacity to create more just and equitable communities.”

Guided by the Charge and College’s core values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith, the PCDEI’s goal is to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive Gustavus community. In October 2020, the PCDEI launched a three-year Racial Justice and Inclusion effort which was then supported by a resolution from the Board of Trustees. This year, it is the expectation that all faculty, staff, students, and trustees will participate in education about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Everyone on campus will choose to either take a virtual DiversityEdu course, complete the four-part virtual workshop series led by educators from Team Dynamics, or complete an educational experience of their choosing that requires approval. 

“We know that racial equity cannot be created through a one-hour lecture. This year, we are inviting the campus to commit to ongoing learning, reflection, and action that empowers all of us to work together to shift the Gustavus community in meaningful and significant ways towards equity and inclusion,” said Erickson. “Our presenters at this year’s MLK virtual event will help us develop personal and communal investment for the long term.”

To learn more about the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Celebration, visit gustavus.edu/events/mlk/.

This event is sponsored by the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program, the Office of the Chaplains, the Center for Inclusive Excellence, and the President’s Office.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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