University to Honor King’s Legacy During Annual Day of Service

New workshops, mobile service projects on campus planned for MLK Jr. Day volunteer event.

MLK
GW will host several events over the next week in celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (William Atkins/GW Today)
January 14, 2015

By James Irwin

Hundreds of volunteers from the George Washington University community will again engage in a day of service Monday in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

GW’s annual MLK Day of Service, part of a weeklong campus celebration honoring the civil rights leader, is expected to draw nearly 750 volunteers from across the university community, said Amy Cohen, executive director for the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

“I like to think of it as being King Day every day—that every day our students and faculty and staff should be honoring and thinking about how we can be active and ethical citizens in the world," Ms. Cohen said. “There is a huge demand from our students and community to honor Dr. King and his legacy.”

As in previous years, GW volunteers will work with schools and local nonprofit organizations throughout the Washington, D.C., area. The university has engaged in a partnership with Serve DC (the D.C. Commission on National and Community Service) and will send volunteers to several locations to work on community projects, including beautification work at Hyattsville Middle School, sorting donations at a local furniture warehouse and registering senior citizens in the Smart911 program at various senior living locations in the District.

New to 2015 are a series of on-campus workshops and mobile service projects to engage the local community in citizen leadership development. The Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service invited members of the university community, local community and faith-based organizations to submit proposals for 90-minute workshops in interfaith dialogue, issues and advocacy and leadership and civic development, Ms. Cohen said. The workshops include a primer seminar on working with city youth, an art and activism session presented by students from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, a bystander intervention presentation and a reflection on Dr. King’s legacy, hosted by Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Service Center.

“To do meaningful service in cold weather, with a city that has made some incredible infrastructural improvements in recent years, we had to look at different ideas,” Ms. Cohen said. “We no longer can go to our high schools or community centers on a large scale to paint or repair because the city has beautiful facilities in many of our schools and community centers. Instead we’re coming on campus to help people build their skills and build their understanding of the legacy and life of Dr. King.”

The day-long event, which the university has hosted since 2001, will begin at 10 a.m. at the Marvin Center and will feature remarks from President Steven Knapp, Ms. Cohen and Mr. Tapscott. Several special guests are expected to attend, including former D.C. Council Chair and Southeastern University President Charlene Drew Jarvis. Service projects will run from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Celebrations of Dr. King’s legacy, hosted by the Multicultural Student Services Center, begin Thursday at Kogan Plaza with a public reading of his letters, sermons and speeches. Events and programs honoring the civil rights leader, including a screening of the movie “Selma,” will continue through the following week.

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More than 600 volunteers spend day working on community projects, honoring King's life and legacy.