Poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni will visit Loyola on February 1. Photo courtesy of www.nikki-giovanni.com.

On Monday, January 16, Loyola University Chicago students, faculty, and staff will have the day off in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., but some will spend the holiday working in Chicago’s lower-income communities. This day of service complements the University’s annual MLK luncheon and keynote lecture, occurring Wednesday, February 1, which will feature poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni.

The MLK luncheon runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Kasbeer Hall at 25 E. Pearson on the Water Tower Campus. Giovanni’s keynote address will occur later that same evening, from 6 to 8 p.m., on the 4th floor of the Klarchek Information Commons at the Lake Shore Campus. Tickets are not required for either event, but space is limited so attendees are advised to arrive early.

Giovanni has spent her life as a voice for civil rights and equality — issues that resonate with members of the Loyola community who take the University’s mission to heart. In her appearances at Loyola, Giovanni will share her captivating stories and inspire individuals in the audience to embark on their own path toward making a difference.

“In many ways, Giovanni symbolizes the struggles and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” says Sadika Sulaiman Hara, director of the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

The luncheon and lecture are sponsored by the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Campus Ministry, and Water Tower Campus Life. The University-wide MLK Planning Committee organized the events.

On MLK Jr. Day, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) will volunteer with City Year, an AmeriCorps program, to repaint and renovate facilities at the Henry Ford Powerhouse High School, Bethune School of Excellence, and the North Lawndale YMCA on Chicago’s west side, according to Mary Bird, director of public service programs for the Loyola School of Law. BLSA and other law students will join more than 800 other volunteers for this project.

Law students will also volunteer to teach children about exercise and nutrition at the MLK Healthy Kids Challenge on Saturday, January 21, at Christ the King Jesuit High School in the Austin neighborhood. Loyola law students will share a well-balanced lunch with the children as well.