MLK Campus-Wide Celebration

MLK Educational Workshops

Get an early start on your credits for the Student Leadership Institute by attending these outstanding MLK-themed workshops.  Students can register through the SLI website to receive SLI credit.   These workshops are open to the IC and Ithaca community.

Additional sessions to be announced!

The following sessions were offered during the 2014 MLK Celebration. The 2015 educational workshops are TBA.

Josh Franco, Predoctoral Diversity Fellow, Art History
Pilgrim, Approach: Encountering Donald Judd and the Virgin of Guadalupe in Marfa, Texas
Ithaca Falls Room

The small West Texas town of Marfa is significant to two distinct sets of pilgrims.  One group comes from all over the globe to spend time with the art and collections of American artist Donald Judd. The other group comes from closer by to genuflect and make prayers at an altar honoring the 1997 apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  The Judd art collection is maintained and promoted by well-endowed, internationally publicized institutions. The altar to Guadelupe exists in the backyard of a local Marfa family and is cared for by Ester Sanchez, wife of the late Hector Sanchez, to whom Guadalupe first appeared.

The pilgrims each have a relationship marked by language, class, ethnic and religious differences.  How do these differences play out aesthetically in a town that can be traversed by foot in under half an hour?  How does Marfa’s current situation- most notable today as a contemporary and Minimalist “art mecca” – figure into its longer history with the US-Mexican war, the “taming” of the wild west, railroad and ranching industries, and the unavoidable presence of the US Border Patrol?  Through significant visual material and further contextual framing, we will explore these questions and more.  The conversation may illuminate how we consider art in its deliberate and unexpected social contexts throughout the world, by taking a close look at one small, strange desert town.

Derek Adams, Assistant Professor, English
Whose Dream Is It Anyway?
Klingenstein Lounge

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is frequently considered a benchmark signaling the demise of institutional racial discrimination.  In fact, upon the election of Barack Obama in November of 2008, King’s speech set the backdrop of a number of political commentators’ shows and a variety of websites heralding the event as a movement into a postracial world.  Their implied message – Dr. King’s dream has been realized! – has resonated in the public discourse on race in the 21st Century, encouraging us to believe that racism is a thing of the past.  This discussion intends to address whether the current postracial sentiment pervading public discourse accurately represents what Dr. King describes in his speech and who this “dream” even belongs to.


Bhavani Arabandi, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Intertwined Destinies in an Age of Global Citizenship
Clark Lounge

Everyday we come into contact with products that are designed, manufactured, and marketed around the world through global commodity chains.  While it is American innovation and development that are often congratulated for giving impetus to this process of globalization, many of us are ignorant about the stories behind these products.  Eminent scholars such as Martha Nussbaum note that because of American dominance, it is imperative for us to not only be cognizant about our role in the world beyond being simply consumers but also form deeper links to an inclusive kind of global citizenship.  This paper explores the intertwined destinies of people around the world and the struggle for global justice.  As Martin Luther King stated eloquently, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Letter from a Birmingham jail, 1963).


Ashley Black ’14 and Melanie Netter ’14, Cornell University Students, OADI Community Advocates

Examining Black Feminism: Inspiring Women of Purpose

Taughannock Falls Room


This workshop discusses how black feminism encourages women of color to celebrate the uniqueness and power of their voices, while recognizing that individual success is woven into the well being of their communities.  This illustrates that our diverse experiences impact the single destiny of the overall collective.


The following sessions will be held from 2:00-3:30pm


Hildy Mica, Local Craftswoman and Accomplished Weaver
Another Look at Ghanian Weaving
Emerson Lounge (2:00-4:15pm)

Join a discussion on the making of Kinte cloth on a loom from Ghana.  Compare African weaving to the European style practiced in antebellum America. Let's consider topics like culture shock and adaptation as we explore the interlinked history of Kinte and homespun fabric.  


Emily Quinn ‘16 and Kody Crawford ‘14, Diversity Peer Educators
Chains of Privilege and Oppression
Klingenstein Lounge

This activity allows participants to explore the concepts of privilege and oppression, and to take a look at how they benefit from, and are held back by, these systems.  Students will participate in an activity that will offer a reflection of their own privileges, as well as ways in which they are oppressed.  After the activity, students will break into small groups to discuss their feelings around the outcomes of the activity.  This workshop will provide a safe space for students to explore and discuss these issues in depth with their peers.  The goal is to make these issues more recognizable and understandable for students, so that action may be taken to address privilege and oppression on campus and beyond.


Mark Darling, Sustainability Programs Coordinator
Achieving Sustainability: Your Choices
Clark Lounge

The UN’s 2013 Human Development Report issued a stark warning: “Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress.”  Humans are now the dominant force changing Earth’s life support system – the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity that allow us to thrive and prosper.  That change is encapsulated in the concept of the Anthropocene – that we have pushed Earth into a new geological epoch of our own creation.  Our number one task as a global species with an almighty footprint is to figure out how to maintain Earth’s life support system while providing food and a decent quality of life to seven billion people climbing to nine billion or more.  An international team of scientists and experts produced an analysis of how it’s possible.  The group identified six universal goals: Lives and Livelihoods, Food Security, Water Sustainability, Clean Energy for All, Healthy Ecosystems, and Effective Governance.  This workshop will strive to inform participants on making personal choices that can contribute to achieving these goals.  The format will be a presentation to provide the background necessary to formulate, in small groups, the choices participants can take to contribute to achieving these goals.


Petros Tesfazion, Predoctoral Diversity Fellow, Economics
African Immigrants in the United States
Ithaca Falls Room

African immigrants to the U.S. have significantly higher educational attainment, with over 50% of men in the labor force aged 25-65 having a college degree. However their earnings do not match their qualifications. We compare the labor market performance of black African immigrants with the performance of black non-African immigrants using a cohort method of studying economic assimilation. We find that the impacts of age at immigration and years since migration to returns to education make significant contributions in explaining the puzzle. Our results show that Africans face up to 40% lower earnings when they initially enter the U.S., but through greater investment on post-migration education, they earn higher returns to their education and thereby close a substantial part of the initial gap.  The gap at entry has also been narrowing across cohorts and Africans who migrate during their childhood and those with no college education face no significant disadvantage. Moreover, African immigrants supply more work hours and have lower propensities to receive welfare, further suggesting that their lower entry earning is due to greater difficulty with skill transferability and not due to lower motivation.


Michele Lenhart, Director of Student Leadership and Involvement, Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs
Gender Equality and Cultural Change
Taughannock Falls Room

Gender discrimination issues impact you, no matter how you identify.  This session will begin to explore the connections between the women’s movement and the civil rights movement during the 1960s – as well as gender equality struggles in 2014.  Participants will have an opportunity to share their own experiences and perspectives on the topic, and ideas for creating cultural change and gender equality will be discussed.