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Southwest Minnesota State University cancels MLK day events to honor his family’s wishes

Published: Jan. 15, 2022 at 9:20 PM CST
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MARSHALL, M.N. (Dakota News Now) - Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many organizations across the country normally hold events to celebrate the life and work of MLK, this year though, the reverend’s family has asked there to be no celebrations without federal action on the nation’s pending voting rights legislation.

Southwest Minnesota State University had several events planned for Sunday and Monday for MLK Day, but they decided to follow the family’s request to cancel their events.

“We had a wonderful program scheduled; we were going to focus on the women of the movement,” said Jefferson Lee IV, SMSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion Director. “Kim Brown who is a recording artist out of Minneapolis was going to go into different historical things about women in music in the movement and women in the movement.”

The school still hopes to bring in Brown to talk about women in the movement in the future, but for this next week, they plan to hold discussions on voter’s rights.

They will also host a panel of experts on Wednesday that will speak about different issues around voting rights from both a liberal and conservative perspective.

“It will give us an opportunity to talk to them about King’s legacy and association with voting rights and allow for an open forum around voting rights conversations and information sharing,” said Dr. Erin Kline, SMSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion Associate Director.

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for voting rights during the civil rights movement, and with concerns about voting rights taking front stage in the last election, the King family decided now is a time for action, not words.

“They do see the value of going out and helping people in need on this day and doing service to the country and do the community, but what’s a better service than to inform the community and uplift the understanding of voting and voting rights and the freedom to vote,” said Lee

SMSU will be focused on the conversation around voting rights this week in honor of King, but don’t plan to stop there.

“We’re going to continue to have these conversations, it is not just going to be isolated to this next week, our goal is to continue the dialogue,” said Kline.

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