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Villanova University Celebrates the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The University’s 2015 MLK Celebration marks the 50-year anniversary of Dr. King’s historic visit to Villanova on Jan. 20, 1965.

Villanova University Celebrates the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University will celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a series of programs and service opportunities beginning Monday, Jan. 19, honoring the life and work of the great civil rights leader. This year’s MLK Celebration marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic visit to Villanova, where he spoke in front of a capacity crowd at the University’s Field House on Jan. 20, 1965.

“Highlighted by service, fellowship and dialog, this annual celebration is a wonderful way for our campus to work together toward achieving Dr. King's vision of the beloved community,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President."

On Monday, Jan. 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – the Villanova community will participate in the national MLK Day of Service. Last year more than 400 students, faculty and staff from across the University participated in the Day of Service, traveling to service sites throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Villanova’s participation in the national Day of Service is coordinated by the University’s Center for Multicultural Affairs, Office of Student Development and Center for Peace and Justice Education.

“The challenge of living the dream of King’s beloved community is not simply serving in a community of need in another country or state,” said Terry Nance, Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Affairs. “The challenge is to engage the uncomfortable everyday practices of friends and family that deny the humanity of others.  It is far easier to save the ambiguous world than to have an honest conversation with someone we love. The beloved community says if you know then you have to act, and if you act, make sure you do it with love. That is how we make the Beloved Community a reality.”

Villanova’s MLK Celebration continues Tuesday, Jan. 20, with its annual MLK Keynote Address. This year’s address will be delivered by Bryan Stevenson, Founding Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law organization that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the United States. Stevenson, who is also a faculty member at NYU School of Law, is the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Bill Moyers Journal.  The lecture is free and open to the public. Stevenson’s keynote address, entitled “How to Keep the Dream Alive,” will begin at 5 p.m. in the Villanova Room of The Connelly Center, located on the main campus of Villanova University. 

On Wednesday, Jan. 21, a reading of excerpts from the speech Dr. King delivered during his visit to the Villanova campus in January 1965 will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. in Villanova’s Connelly Center Cinema, followed by commentary and discussion. *The Jan. 21 event has been postponed. It will be rescheduled for a later date, to be determined.

"The 50th anniversary of Dr. King's visit to campus gives us the opportunity to realize that he spoke here and directly to us, all members of the Villanova community, past, present, and future," said Carol Anthony, Chair of the University's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee and Associate Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education. "His vision of the beloved community and his voice for justice and peace are as relevant and necessary today as they were a half century ago, despite all the apparent changes that have occurred.  The best way to honor his visit is by resolving to continue his work, not for a day, or week, but until we reach "the promised land" of which he spoke."

Villanova’s Center for Peace and Justice Education will host its annual Freedom School program on Thursday, Jan. 22, in observance of the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Freedom School – which addresses various aspects of social justice that relate to and extend the vision of Dr. King – consists of a series of lectures highlighting important topics such as rule of law and respect for human rights, education and social justice, peacebuilding and peacemaking, and nonviolence and nonviolent social change. For more information on Villanova’s 2015 Freedom School events, click here.

On Monday, Jan. 26, The Villanova University School of Law (VLS) presents its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture, sponsored by Pepper Hamilton LLP. This year’s keynote speaker will be Professor Gregory Parks, Assistant Professor of Law at Wake Forest University School of Law. Parks' research focuses on both race and law issues as well as social science and law issues. His lecture, entitled “A Love Supreme,” will be held at the Villanova School of Law, in the Blank Rome LLP Classroom (Room 102) at 5:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Villanova Law’s MLK Celebration events continue Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 3:00 p.m., with a panel entitled “Because Michael, Eric and Tamir: The Legal System’s Responses to Police, Protests, and the Community.” The panel and discussion will focus on the legal and social issues related to the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others, and how police, the legal system and communities can respond to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The panel and discussion will be held in Room 102 at the Villanova School of Law. The event is free and open to the public.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit