Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
Kent State University’s 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, themed “Empowering the Individual, Strengthening the Community,” took place on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 2 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The event was free and open to the public.
Inspirational speaker and Professor Emeritus of Ethnic Studies Carlos Muñoz Jr., Ph.D., at UC Berkeley was the keynote speaker at the event.
“Our celebration at Kent State gives us the opportunity to reflect on the ideals of a great man whose struggle for civil rights and inclusion has led to many great things for our citizens and country,” said Alfreda Brown, Ed.D., vice president for Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “This year, I am delighted to have Dr. Carlos Muñoz Jr. as our keynote speaker. Dr. Muñoz has been at the forefront of civil rights issues for many decades, and we all can learn a lot from his experiences. I invite all members and friends of our diverse and inclusive Kent State community to join us in this year’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
In his 37-year academic career, Muñoz gained international prominence as a political scientist, historian, journalist and public intellectual. He was born in the “segundo barrio” in El Paso, Texas, and raised in the barrios of East Los Angeles, Calif. Muñoz authored several pioneering works on the Mexican-American political experience and on African-American and Latino political coalitions, including his award-winning “Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement.” He is an acknowledged expert on the issues of ethnic and racial politics, multiculturalism and diversity, immigration, civil and human rights and affirmative action.
Muñoz has appeared on PBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS and the Spanish-speaking networks Univision and Telemundo, and he is a syndicated columnist with the Progressive Media Project. His newspaper columns are distributed nationally by the Knight-Ridder newswire service and have appeared online on Latino.com and on the BBC World Service.
As a scholar-activist, Muñoz has been a central figure in the struggles for civil and human rights, social and economic justice, and peace in the United States and abroad. He played a prominent leadership role as a founder of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. He co-founded the Institute for Multiracial Justice in San Francisco and the Latinos Unidos, a grassroots community organization in Berkeley, Calif. Today, Muñoz is active in the Immigrant Rights Movement, and he is currently working on several new books, including “Diversity and the Challenge for a Multiracial Democracy in America.”
Pre-celebratory events marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Kent State began on Jan. 15 with a “Black and Brown Discussion,” featuring Kent State President’s Ambassador José Feliciano at the Kent Student Center Kiva at 7 p.m. On Jan. 16, a Support and Mentoring Fair was held at the Kent Student Center Ballroom Balcony and a campus conversation, “The Power of Words,” was held at Studio A in Twin Towers. Other events included a Game of Life Simulation on Jan. 23 in the Kent Student Center.