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College Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

"Inside/Out: Making the Invisible Visible" is theme

Spanning three weeks in January and February, Dartmouth's 2005 series of events celebrating the life and work of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will focus on the theme: "Inside/Out: Making the Invisible Visible." This year's events will begin on Saturday, Jan. 15, King's birthday, and continue through Sunday, Feb. 6. 

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On Monday, Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day-long series of activities will culminate with the annual keynote address, which this year will be given by award-winning writer Dorothy Allison, who reveals the workings of poverty, violence and life at the margins of "acceptable" society in fiercely eloquent books including Bastard Out of Carolina; Two or Three Things I Know for Sure; and Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature.

Another highlight of the celebration will be the presentation of Dartmouth's annual Social Justice Awards. Recipients of this year's awards are the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr. and Dartmouth alumni Thomas Clark '92, DMS '01, Trudell Guerue Jr. '74, Jennifer Rottmann '02, Jeffrey Swartz TU '84 and Dartmouth Trustee Emeritus David Shipler '64. The awards will be presented on Saturday, Jan. 29 during a ceremony in Alumni Hall, Hopkins Center, beginning at 5 p.m.  (See complete story.)

The College's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee explains that the theme of this year's celebration is intended to encourage participants to "take a look at ourselves from the inside out" through examination of how identity is formed and how social order is constructed and maintained.

"We are particularly interested in the order that is achieved by our individual consent, whether explicit or implicit," the Committee's statement says. "Over the course of this celebration, we will examine the places in society where laws and regulations are replaced by traditions (de jure v. de facto) that are even more stifling than the roles a court would have assigned or enforced on our social relationships, housing patterns, class status and job opportunities.

"Some of the questions we hope to explore include: How does the imagination interact with these 'invisible' rules and make allowance for the construction of any individual's social identity? How is the 'closet' produced and sustained? Why would the social liberties of some people and groups be ignored and limited by our imaginations? What prevents us from appreciating the fundamental need for public access accommodations for people with disabilities? What motivates us to care so deeply about the institution of marriage and deny the possibility of extending the right to marry to citizens who are of the same sex? What causes us to create these restrictions? Is it our limited capacity or our desire for order-or is it an indication of our beliefs regarding dominance and social hierarchy?"

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a key figure in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, from his leadership of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955-56 to the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in 1963. As an advocate of an unyielding but nonviolent campaign for change, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968. In 1983, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be observed on the third Monday in January, a day that falls on or is near to King's birthday.


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Last Updated: 12/17/08