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UT president, Toledo mayor encourage community to attend MLK Unity Celebration to honor civil rights leader

University of Toledo President Sharon L. Gaber and Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson will host a news conference 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13 in the Schmakel Room of the UT Driscoll Alumni Center to invite students and families throughout the northwest Ohio region to the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration.

The theme of the 16th annual event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is “Reconciliation through Service: Education, Social Justice and Religion,” named in honor of the three pillars that defined the philosophy of the civil rights leader who created a nonviolent social movement that changed the course of American history.

The Unity Celebration, which is free and open to the pubic, will take place 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16 in Savage Arena on the UT Main Campus. A free community luncheon will follow the ceremony.

Donzaleigh Abernathy

Donzaleigh Abernathy

The keynote speaker is Donzaleigh Abernathy, award-winning actress and daughter of civil rights icon Ralph David Abernathy. She published a book about the friendship between her parents and the Kings titled “Partners to History: Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Unity Celebration will feature performances by the Scott High School marching band, UT gospel choir, UT Fire Squad dance team and students from Toledo School for the Arts, as well as recognition of MLK Scholarship recipients and African-American Leadership Council of United Way Scholarship Awards.

This year Martin Luther King Jr. Day also kicks off a week of service events for UT students. Throughout the week students are volunteering at local agencies throughout the city, including the Friendly Center, Padua Center and J. Frank Troy Senior Center.

Media are invited 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20 to the J. Frank Troy Senior Center at 545 Indiana Ave. in Toledo when students volunteer and play games with seniors in the community.

In addition, UT is partnering with the United Way of Greater Toledo and other local colleges and universities for service activities throughout the month.

“We are proud to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King by working together and helping serve others,” Gaber said. “Selfless acts of generosity combined with conversations about issues that in the past have kept us separate will allow us to celebrate our differences.”

“Through meaningful work and ‘Reconciliation through Service: Education, Social Justice and Religion,’ we can make real our celebration of Dr. King’s life in 2017 and beyond as we strive as individuals and as a city to define ourselves by these peaceful and powerful activities,” Hicks-Hudson said.

The Unity Celebration is organized by a committee with co-chairs Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion, Linda Alvarado, executive director of the Board of Community Relations for the City of Toledo, and Pastor Christopher Rowell.

is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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