To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  life and fight for equality, the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is hosting the 2013 MLK Celebration: Rebuild The Dream on Wednesday, January 23, featuring Van Jones as the keynote speaker. Jones is a former green jobs adviser to the White House, and he has spent the past 20 years championing causes of sustainability as a social entrepreneur.

Jones is an excellent example of Loyola’s annual tradition to host a keynote speaker who highlights Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for civil rights, equality, and commitment to social justice. Sadika Sulaiman Hara, director of the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, is in charge of planning and implementing the 2013 celebration. This year, Jones was asked to serve as the keynote speaker particularly for his background in grassroots organizing and his concern for green-energy jobs, as well as his commitment to using his vision to bring equity for marginalized communities in the United States.

“Jones’s message and work is one that is beneficial for the Loyola community to hear, particularly because of the value we hold for service to others and of course, social justice,” Hara says. Last year, Loyola was honored to host world-renowned poet and activist Nikki Giovanni as the keynote speaker.

Hara was eager to host Jones for the keynote address because he has experienced, first hand, the challenges and success the country has faced in attaining equality. Jones has led a life committed to work in the social justice sphere. He is the co-founder of three non-profit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. His book, The Green Collar Economy is a New York Times best-seller and he was named one of TIME magazine’s “Most Influential People in the World” in 2009. He was a green jobs adviser to the White House and currently is a visiting fellow in collaborative economics at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco.

The MLK celebration is one that brings students, faculty, and staff together each year to recognize and support efforts in the ongoing fight for equality throughout the United States. Ann Marie Morgan, assistant dean of students, says that for the past five years, the students have been major supporters of the annual MLK celebration.

“It’s clear the students around campus care about social justice issues and civil rights,” she says. “I’ve seen a strong desire to hear from people who have worked for civil rights and it’s great to see so many students sitting among faculty and staff who are equally as passionate and energized about this issues.”

Jones will deliver his “Rebuild The Dream”  address twice  at  Loyola on Wednesday, January 23. A keynote luncheon will take place at Kasbeer Hall, in the Corboy Law Center on the Water Tower Campus, from noon to 1 p.m. Jones will then deliver his keynote address in the Mullady Theatre (CFSU), on the Lake Shore Campus, from 5-7 p.m. and he will stick around for a book signing after the address.

Registration for the event is not required, and entry is free. For more on Van Jones, click here. Unable to attend? The noon event will be live streamed here.