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‘A Day on, Not a Day off’: Cabrini to Celebrate Martin Luther King Day of Service and Advocacy

Posted on 1/12/2023 2:20:59 PM

This year’s Martin Luther King Day of Service and Advocacy will offer the Cabrini community opportunities to serve those in need locally and to learn about King’s legacy on Monday, January 16. Organized by the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging along with the Wolfington Center, the Martin Luther King Day activities will run from 8am to 2pm, both on campus and off.

“We invite students, staff, faculty, and friends to join us on Monday, January 16 as we consider what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared was ‘life’s most urgent and persistent question: What are you doing for others?,’” said Lailah Dunbar, Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

King’s birthday has been recognized as a National Day of Service since 1994. Beginning at 8am on Monday, students will help facilitate sock donations through local non-profit The Joy of Sox, followed by a welcome and kick-off rally inside Grace Hall Atrium at 10am. Shuttles to the day’s second service opportunity at Martha’s Choice Community Farm depart at 10:30am. (Please note: Shuttles to The Joy of Sox depart from Grace Hall at 7:30am)

Register for Service and Workshops

Ray Ward, PhD, Director of the Wolfington Center, Cabrini’s hub for community-based service, said MLK Day will be “a day on, not a day off,” echoing the National Day of Service motto. These opportunities to give back are an extension of Cabrini’s Engagements with the Common Good (ECG) curriculum which supports solidarity, long-term community relationships, and a commitment to lasting change, Ward added.

“That’s why our MLK Day of Service and Advocacy brings people off campus to work with lasting partners in The Joy of Sox and Martha’s Community Farm, while also offering the chance to deepen our understanding of Dr. King’s vision for society and the tools he used to help us advance towards that brighter day,” Ward said.

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to register in advance for service opportunities they wish to attend. Participants should dress appropriately for outdoor work.

For those who wish to remain on campus for an educational element of the Martin Luther King Day program, the first of three workshop sessions will begin at 10:30am in Grace Hall. Participants will have the choice between two workshops during each of the three sessions.

SESSION 1 (10:30–11:20am)

Advocating for Individuals Affected by Interpersonal Violence (Domestic Violence) 

Colleen Lelli, PhD, Director, Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education and Professor, Education


Participants will unravel the intricacies of interpersonal violence/domestic violence specifically focusing on signs of abuse including using the power and control wheel to recognize abusive relationships. Participants will identify the importance of being a positive bystander and participants will engage in an exercise that will expand their knowledge base about the ways an individual (and/or community) can choose advocacy and bystander intervention to support survivors of domestic violence.

*Content advisory: Individuals may be exposed to content in this session they may find upsetting or disturbing.

Beyond the Polis: Dr. King/ Mother Cabrini’s Christian-Philosophical Personalism

Fr. Fidelis Olokunboro, Faculty


Participants will examine Dr. King's personalism and philosophical theology of “being;” Mother Cabrini's motivation within the Christian personalism of Dr. King; philosophy/principles of “being” that could deepen the lives of the Cabrini community; and a philosophical framing that could deepen the Cabrinian brand.

SESSION 2 (11:30am–12:20pm)

Becoming the Beloved Community: How the Kingian Philosophy and the Cabrinian Mission Can Transform Our World

Lailah Dunbar, Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging


Participants will contrast the Cabrinian mission to “educate the heart” with the Kingian vision to create a “beloved community” that is free from the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism. Participants will engage in discussion and activities to consider how to embody these principles for the survival of our world.

Language of the Unheard: An Introduction to Advocacy and Organizing

Ray Ward, PhD, Director, Wolfington Center


Participants will learn about Dr. King’s view of advocacy and organizing, and prepare for their own work for civic change. “But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.” Dr. King used these words in his 1965 speech, “The Other America,” to contextualize the outcry and the destruction of uprisings in Watts and Harlem in the preceding summers. Participants will find ways of making their voices, and the voices of others, heard in their communities, our society, and in the halls of power.

SESSION 3 (12:30–1:30pm)

Birth of a Year: What will be Your Resolution: Activism or Self-Care? 

Dr. Zakia Gates, PhD, Assistant Professor, Teacher Education


Participants will discuss and engage in conversations around how we advocate without burnout. Participants will examine Dr. King’s 1957 sermon, “Birth of a New Nation,” where he said, “Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil… It comes through hard labor, and it comes through toil.” Guiding question: How do we sustain our mental health through activism? 

Can This Sickness Be Cured: An analysis and Antidote for the Three Evils of Society

Dr. Ronald Whitaker II, EdD, Director, Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement, and Assistant Professor, Education


Participants will examine Dr. King’s final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” which was delivered to striking sanitation workers at the Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, on April 3, 1968, the day before his assassination. Dr. King gave a scathing examination of the “real” conditions of America sharing that, “the nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion is all around.” This workshop gives an intimate look at “root” issues that Dr. King deplored at the end of his life, while simultaneously giving us a remedy of hope as we currently grapple with the “Three Evils of Society 2.0.”

Of her “Birth of a Year” workshop, Gates said: “Hopefully this workshop will challenge us to look deeper inside of ourselves to find out what our purpose and agenda is behind activism, and whether that activism is authentic or performative.”

Between hands-on service work and analytical learning sessions, the Cabrini community has multiple opportunities to honor King’s enduring legacy of service, faith, and advocacy.

“We believe that Mother Cabrini’s mission to educate the hearts of students perfectly aligns with Dr. King’s vision to open our hearts to the needs and concerns of all people,” Dunbar said.