LIVONIA, MICH. – Madonna University hold Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideals of equality and justice close to its heart. This year, the university's MLK Celebration series explored these themes not only through traditional events but also through the unique lens of its Franciscan heritage. Throughout January, students, faculty, and staff engaged in activities that honored Dr. King's vision while reflecting on how it aligns with the core values of compassion, respect, and service embodied by the Franciscan tradition.
On Thursday, January 25, a human library-inspired event provided participants an opportunity to "check out" the stories of different people and how their life experiences related to King's ideals. Upon entering the Madonna library, students and staff chose from a subject catalog of topics related to the diverse human experience and then were matched with people who could share their story about the subject.
Following the human library-inspired event, there was an inspirational Candlelight Pilgrimage that brought staff and students together to pay homage to the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Participants gathered near Kresge Hall and, holding candles, journeyed to different stations on campus - first stopping to read posters dedicated to three Women of the Civil Rights Movement, then to the Interfaith Chapel, where there was a reflection on Dr. King's influences; next to the St. Francis of Assisi gazebo, where there was a prayer to end violence; then to the Madonna University Chapel, where a portion of Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail was read; and finally, to the Franciscan Center Lecture Hall, where the pilgrims listened to Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. At the conclusion of the pilgrimage, the staff and students reviewed the six principles of nonviolence.
Additionally, the MLK photo contest winners were announced: Nekold Jones claimed first place with The Track, "where every individual is on an equal playing field. Where there is a commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect," Jones explained. "The track celebrates diversity and inclusion much like MLK's dream. The track becomes a common ground for individuals, regardless of their race or status, to have the opportunity to compete and succeed." Graduate student Molly-Kate Johnson earned second place, and undergraduate communications studies major Ramon Lacy placed third.
The students' artistic images celebrated Madonna University's core values and captured the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and the mission and heritage theme: "Reverencing the Other: Fostering a Culture of Encounter."
The final event in the MLK Celebration series was a movie double feature. Members of the campus community watched The Secret Life of Bees, and The Burial, which reflect the themes of race, equality, and hope.
Dr. King's unwavering commitment to non-violence, love, and justice resonates deeply with Madonna University's Franciscan values. His call to dismantle prejudice and build bridges aligns perfectly with the Franciscan emphasis on compassion, respect, and service to all. By exploring these connections, the campus community was able to commemorate Dr. King's legacy and inspire others to actively embody his values in their own lives and communities.