VALPARAISO | The city and Valparaiso University are observing Martin Luther King Day with a series of events highlighted by a presentation by Mayor Jon Costas and a keynote address by Eboo Patel on Monday.
Costas' presentation on "Embracing Inclusion" will be at 9 a.m. at Valparaiso City Hall and will focus on King's talent as a bridge builder.
"Dr. King was able to forge strong relationships of mutual respect, essential in bringing about positive change," Costas said.
In 2008, Costas appointed the city's first Human Relations Council as an advisory group to the mayor's office. The panel was made a permanent standing committee in 2012 dedicated to creating a nondiscriminatory environment by promoting diversity and inclusion and raising awareness in relation to these issues.
Patel is the featured speaker at a convocation to be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the VU Chapel of the Resurrection. Patel will speak on his belief that religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. A Muslim, he has written two books on interfaith cooperation and has been a speaker at colleges and universities across the country.
The theme of the MLK Day observances is "Building Bridges: Dream, Dialogue, Service" and includes several showings of the film "Waging Peace" beginning Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Mueller Hall Refectory.
On Sunday, Rev. David Vasquez will be featured at a Global Communion Service at 10 a.m. at the Chapel of the Resurrection.
In addition to the speeches by Costas and Patel, Monday's activities will include a tree blessing at 11:15 a.m. at the MLK arboretum at VU, a question and answer session with Patel at 11:45 a.m. at the Harre Union ballroom, and focus sessions at 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. at various campus locations.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the VU law school will hold a mock congressional debate on the topic "Affirmative Action in Higher Education" at Wesemann Hall.
The observance will wrap up next Thursday with a presentation by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at 4 p.m. at Wesemann Hall.
A full listing of events is available at www.valpo.edu/mlk/assets/docs.mlk2013_program.pdf.