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Honoring Dr. King

The Office of Multicultural Affairs will commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of events throughout the month including a dedication luncheon and a University Lecture Series speaker. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

As the new decade begins, so will another year of USF honoring the legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK).

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) will once again host its annual MLK Commemorative Week. This year its focus will be on three signature events throughout January instead of their usual outlined week of events.

This will include the annual MLK Dedication Luncheon, University Lecture Series (ULS) speaker  Lindsay Peoples Wagner and a QTPOC (Queer or Trans People of Color) and Coffee event, according to Assistant Director of OMA Tabitha Raj.

Annual MLK Dedication Luncheon

The purpose of the MLK Dedication Luncheon is for the campus and community to commemorate and reflect on the legacy of MLK. 

The event will be on Friday, Jan. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom. This is one of USF’s longest-running celebrations for the civil rights activist as it has been conducted annually for over 30 years, according to Raj.

The speakers next week will include OMA Director Stacy Pippen, Vice President of Student Success Paul Dosal and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies Fai Howard.

There will also be a special performance by the USF Gospel Choir and a “call to action” to finish off the ceremony.

“We do a theatrical presentation in which students talk about how they emulate qualities of MLK, and each person will receive a takeaway item which will encourage them to continue MLK’s dream in this new decade,” Raj said.

The new decade was an important element in choosing this year’s “Re-imagining the Future” theme as it coincides with new beginnings.

“As we embark on a new decade we want USF students to be able to reflect on challenges and accomplishments of the past while reimagining the future in terms of civic engagement and service,” Raj said. 

The luncheon is on a first-come, first-serve basis with a maximum capacity of 208 people with the roundtable set up.

Students have until 24 hours before the event to register on the OMA website. As of Jan. 14, the RSVP is at about 100 people.

Raj said that last year, all the seats were filled with additional people standing to observe in the back.

“A good mix of students and staff attend but we really want to encourage students that this is an event for them,” Raj said. “We’re also encouraging the community to come and attend the event as well.”

ULS to bring Lindsay Peoples Wagner

As a part of a partnership between OMA and ULS, Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Lindsay Peoples Wagner will be speaking Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. in the MSC Oval Theater. 

Peoples Wagner is most well-known for being the youngest editor in chief of Condé Nast magazine  — a mass media company that produces and maintains magazine brands such as GQ, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair — as well as Condé Nast’s third black editor. 

She commonly shares her experience in interviews about what it is like to be black and work in the fashion industry.

“When I started at Teen Vogue, it was such a struggle for me,” Peoples Wagner said in an interview with the New York Times. “I’d never cried that much in my life. I felt like this industry would never open its doors to people like me.”

The lecture is free for all USF students and community members.

QTPOC and Coffee event

QTPOC and Coffee is an event started last year with the purpose of having moderated conversations about the lives and experiences of trans and queer people.

“QTPOC addresses intersectionality through casual dialogue, particularly about the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation,” Raj said.

The event will be held on Jan. 22 from 5-6 p.m. in OMA Suite 3300 with January’s topic being mental health.

Dani Rosenkrantz, a licensed professional at the Counseling Center, will serve as the facilitator.  Rosenkrantz’s areas of study include LGBTQ issues, identity development, trauma and relationship concerns.

Coffee and pastries will be provided as well as a custom “QTPOC and Coffee” mug.

“We wanted to include this [event] as a part of our MLK events but we also wanted to have a focus on QTPOC and mental health,” Raj said.

In 2019, one of the weekly events included the MLK Candlelight Vigil hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and in 2018, the USF Contemporary Art Museum conducted a Pledge of Allegiance flag-raising ceremony.

Raj said other departments may have put together MLK-dedicated events this year as well, but it won’t be grouped together like in years prior.

“Because a weekly calendar wasn’t put together this year, student organizations have planned their own events that will celebrate MLK, but it just won’t be considered a collaboration with (OMA).”

Raj encourages students to participate in this month’s event to not only honor MLK but to gain new insights from the speakers.

“It is a great way for people to meet other students and receive a motivational talk about the kind of leader that MLK was,” Raj said. “We want to highlight his values and make sure that is represented at USF.”