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VALPARAISO — For the 28th year, Valparaiso University will present a daylong workshop/study of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and a look to the future of carrying on his work.

Associate history professor Heath Carter, who is co-chairing the event, said VU has been a progressive voice in the Region in raising questions about race and other social issues.

"We really want, as a faith-based university which cares deeply about justice, to take a look at what it means to love your neighbor," said Carter, adding it was decided 28 years ago that instead of just taking a day off to mark the day, the university would provide space for people from across the Region and elsewhere to come and take a look at King's legacy and what that legacy means for the future.

The theme of the Monday event is "Why We Can't Wait," which is taken from a 1963 King book giving the moral argument that waiting for justice is not justice. It also will reflect the anniversary of King's assassination on April 4, 1968.

"We want to take stock of how far we've been and how far we have to go," said Carter.

Nikole Hannah-Jones will be the keynote speaker during a 2 p.m. convocation in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

Hannah-Jones was named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, one of 24 globally, for her writing on modern day civil rights for The New York Times Magazine.

Her thesis, Carter said, looks at the debates on fixing education and closing the racial inequality gap.

"She believes the single most important thing is to desegregate the public schools, but there has been no public will to do that," said Carter, adding they hope her talk, along with several others during the day, will initiate a "good conversation" in the Region.

The day will begin with a slate of sessions on race, labor, environment and violence. Each session will have two to three short speeches followed by a longer presentation on the subject. There also will be time for questions and answers and reflection, he said.

The topics range from fair trade to police brutality, #MeToo movement, race matters in Northwest Indiana, labor organization, social justice activism and gender-based violence.

Carter said the morning programs deal with issues close to King, racism, poverty and violence, which he tackled toward the end of his life. 

"It is the good and right thing to take a day to honor King's legacy and to challenge us today to live that legacy of his unfinished business," Carter said.

The event will kick off with the screening of the film, "I Am Not Your Negro," a 2017 Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature, at 4 p.m. Sunday.


Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.