WSU News

MLK event highlights Common Reading theme of body politics

PULLMAN, Wash. – The “continual war on women of color,” body politics and how they relate to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., will be explored during Washington State University’s Annual MLK Community Celebration 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the CUB ballroom.
 
“This year’s MLK event promises to be engaging and dynamic due to the cross-campus collaborations that shape the program,” said Marc Robinson, director of the WSU Culture and Heritage Houses and lead organizer of the MLK celebration.
 
His team partnered with several areas on campus – most notably the Common Reading Program, whose 2012-13 book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” is a natural fit with the celebration because it discusses issues of race and equity in United States history, Robinson said. 
 
Events throughout the month
A variety of events throughout January celebrate King’s legacy and coincide with the national holiday celebrated in his honor – on Monday, Jan. 21, in 2013.
 
The Common Reading Program, part of the University College at WSU, will host a free, public appearance by the family of Henrietta Lacks at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in Beasley Coliseum. 
 
“The Common Reading Program aims to connect students’ experience of the book to areas of study across the university,” said program co-director Karen Weathermon. “We are especially pleased that this year’s book highlights issues of diversity and social justice.”
 
Body politics
The discussion started by the Lacks family will continue during the Jan. 24 celebration, when David Leonard, associate professor and chair of WSU’s Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies Department, delivers the keynote speech: “Dr. King’s Dream, Body Politics and the Continual War on Women of Color.”
 
Body politics refers to the practices and policies through which powers of society regulate the human body, as well as the struggle over the degree of individual and social control of the body.
 
Leonard will examine links between King’s legacy, the life of Henrietta Lacks, the historical experience of African-American women and social justice.
 
“I am excited by the opportunity to reflect on the historic power of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Leonard. “Examining his life’s work, alongside that of many other civil rights freedom fighters, I am humbled and honored. Having taught about Dr. King, and having worked with the King Papers Project at Stanford University, I am honored to have this opportunity to engage the broader campus community.”
 
Award winners announced
The celebration also will feature performances by the WSU School of Music faculty jazz ensemble Jazz Northwest, the University Singers and God’s Harmony Gospel Choir.
 
Winners of the MLK Distinguished Service Awards will be presented and, in coordination with the WSU Center for Civic Engagement, participants in the MLK Day of Service will be recognized.
 
The MLK community celebration receives support from the WSU Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Committee (VPLAC).