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2018 Schedule of Events

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Vanderbilt University Commemoration
January 12-15, 2018

Justice Through Collective Action: Fighting Oppression without Suppression

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

 Schedule of Events

For the most up-to-date information, visit

All MLK events on Monday, January 15, have GME (Greek Member Experience) status.

Friday, January 12th

12:00 p.m.
MLK Kickoff
Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
Come out and enjoy great soul food and fellowship as we officially kick off the MLK Commemoration.

Friday-Sunday, January 12th-15th

MLK Weekend of Service
OACS invites you to join the Vanderbilt community in a weekend of action and reflection as we honor the contributions of Rev. Dr. King in seeking justice and challenging the discourse on civil (dis)obedience. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to join us for projects that address specific community needs through intentional service and action. For more info please link to

Monday, January 15th

10:00 a.m.
Nashville Freedom March
Buses leave from The Ingram Commons at Murray Circle and Kirkland Circle. Lite Breakfast Refreshments will be provided at both sites.

Buses for the 2018 Freedom March arrive for pick up at 9:00 a.m. at Kirkland Circle (near the intersection of West End Ave. and Louise Ave.) and Murray Circle (near the intersection of 18th Ave. S. and Horton Ave.) in The Ingram Commons. The buses depart campus at 9:20 a.m. and transport students to the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church near the intersection of Jefferson St. and 28th Avenue North. The March will start at 10:00 a.m., and will arrive at TSU’s Gentry Center at 12 noon. Immediately after the March, buses will be available from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the TSU’s Gentry Center to transport students back to campus.

To sign up for the March, please fill out the form here.

11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Nashville Freedom Ride
Leaving from Branscomb Circle

Nashville Freedom Rider Kwame Lillard will conduct a tour of significant sites in the civil rights movement in Nashville.

11:30-11:45            Students check in at Branscomb
12:00 p.m.             Lunch at Swett’s Restaurant, 2725 Clifton Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
1:00-5:00 p.m.     Tour by Kwame Lillard and Sandra Brown

This is an RSVP event (priority given to Vanderbilt students)

11:30 a.m.
Souls of the Dream:  MLK Lunchtime Performances
with Melanated and Vanderbilt Spoken Word
Location: Sarratt Cinema

Box Lunches will be available outside of Sarratt Cinema for students, faculty and staff attending the Lunchtime Performances

Afternoon Teach-Ins • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Teach-In (A)
Activism and Sports
When former National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest racial inequality and police brutality during the pre-game playing of the National Anthem, he sparked an international conversation. He raised a series of questions, too. What is the historical relationship between activism and athletics? What role has the black athlete played in the black freedom struggle? How should we think about the relationship between sports and society? This session responds to all of these questions. In particular, by analyzing the perceptions and global politics of twentieth-century black athletes including Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe, it provides a foundation for better understanding current events including the ongoing protests by current and former NFL players.
Leader: Dr. Brandon Byrd
Location:  Sarratt Cinema

Teach-In (B)
Self-Care is Community Care: Practices for Building Healing and Justice
Self-Care is Community Care: Practices for Building Healing and Justice In the age of social media, “wokeness” can feel like a relentless, impossible ideal one must “achieve” to feel worthwhile, let alone impactful. Our movement spaces are not immune from the structures and habits of white supremacy and oppression, but there are many folks who are giving vision to how our work, our movements, and our future might be radically changed if we centered healing justice as crucial. Together we’ll practice personal, communal, and embodied ways of centering healing as crucial to the work of racial justice and more.
Leaders: Lyndsey Godwin and Rev. Shantell Hinton
Location:  Ingram Commons MPR

2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Teach-In (C)
Freedom of Expression without Suppression of Speech
We live in an age in which “free speech” has consequences. Speech is not free from stimulating opposition and rancor; and it certainly isn’t free from engendering division and debate.   Indeed, the stakes are higher than ever, particularly on college campuses, during this age of divisiveness and activism. One goal of this teach-in is to examine the concept of “free speech” in the marketplace of ideas.   Secondly, the teach-in will stimulate dialogue on how we can each contribute constructively to a community of mutual respect and tolerance, even when encountering oppositional concepts and ideas.
Leaders: Dr. Frank Dobson and Carin Brown
Location:  Sarratt Cinema

Teach-In (D)
Injustice in the “It” City
Nashville is often deemed as one of the “it” cities in the nation, as it is home to country music, Opryland, celebrities, an array of colleges and universities, and a renowned show. As a result, the city has garnered an influx of tourists and residents, especially in the past 15 years. However, behind the attractions and amenities are injustices that have helped Nashville to become a top city. Gentrification, the money bail system, the school-to-prison pipeline, and a lack of affordable housing are a few of the inequities that plague the “it” city. This teach-in will explore these and other systems of oppression in Nashville and the on the groundwork that is being done to eliminate these injustices.
Leader:  Briana Perry
Location: BCC Auditorium

MLK Keynote Address
Professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Langford Auditorium

Tickets are free and available through the Sarratt Cinema Box Office beginning December 1st. On January 15, remaining tickets will be available at the lobby of Langford Auditorium at 6:15 pm.

6:30 p.m.
Welcome and Introduction by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Frank E. Dobson, Jr.

6:35 p.m.
Candlelight Vigil
Join us for an inspirational interfaith service that bears witness to the shining light that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was in our world and to the continuing light of his legacy among us. Vanderbilt University and Divinity School students will lead this service. Thanks to Assistant Dean Rev. Dr. Amy Steele for coordinating the planning of this service.

6:45 p.m.
MLK Middle and High School Essay/Poetry/Spoken Word Contest Winners

For complete essays and poems please visit our website at

7:00 p.m.
Welcome by Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos
Introductions by Karlin Compton, Black Student Association President and
Jacqueline Cox, Vanderbilt Student Government President

MLK Keynote: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

7:50 p.m.
Q and A 

8:05 p.m.
Dr. Dyson will sign copies of his new book “Tears That Will Not Stop”
Location: Lobby of Langford



In-Conjunction Events

Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Vanderbilt School of Nursing
Debra J. Barksdale, Ph.D., FNP-BC, CNE, FAANP, FAAN
Rise: An Instance of Becoming Higher
Monday, January 15, 12 noon- 1 pm

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 208 Light Hall


Chancellor’s Lecture Series
presents Dr. Jelani Cobb
From Louis Armstrong to the NFL: Racial Protest in America
Wednesday, January 17, 6:30 pm
Langford Auditorium

Kennedy Center Lectures on Development & Developmental Disabilities
Supported Decision-Making: Protecting Rights, Ensuring Choices
Thursday, January 18, 4:10 – 5:10 pm
Room 241, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center/One Magnolia Circle Building

This presentation will introduce the theory and practice of Supported Decision-Making (SDM), where older adults and people with disabilities work with trusted friends, family members and professionals to understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions. SDM is associated with increased self-determination, or life control, which has been linked with improved life outcomes. Thus, SDM may help medical professionals improve patient communication, collaboration, health and wellbeing across the life course.
Advance registration is appreciated. Please register before January 12, 2018:
Speaker: Jonathan Martinis, J.D., Senior Director for Law and Policy, The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. Jonathan Martinis is a nationally recognized disability legal and policy advocate. For over 20 years, he has represented and advocated for people with disabilities to ensure that they receive the services and supports they need and want to live full, meaningful, and community integrated lives. 

Vanderbilt University Law School
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture
“From Civil Rights to Diversity…and Back Again?”
Professor Adrienne D. Davis
Vice Provost and William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law
Monday, January 29, 2o18
12:00 PM • Renaissance Room
Free and Open to the Public
Lunch Provided

We would like to thank all of our gracious sponsors and everyone participating in this commemoration.

Tickets are free and available through Sarratt Cinema or at Langford Auditorium on the evening of the event on a first come basis.

Questions? Email or call 615-294-5857