EWU Students Organize MLK Day Conference
Story updated on Jan. 17.
Eagles braved frigid temperatures for a “day on” to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Students, faculty and staff gathered to participate in the annual unity rally and march through downtown Spokane, on Monday, Jan. 15, and the EWU sponsored conference and workshop, held afterward in the Spokane Convention Center.
The “MLK Day of Service: Empowerment Through Action” conference was organized by members of EWU’s Black Student Union in partnership with Angela Schwendiman, assistant dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and director of Africana Studies, and the EWU Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI).
The conference featured inspirational community leaders as keynote speakers, including Betsy Wilkerson, who was recently elected as president of the Spokane City Council; Oscar Harris, chief family and community engagement officer for Spokane Public Schools; Robin Kelley, chief diversity officer at Gonzaga University; and Lisa Gardner, the newly elected president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who also serves as director of community engagement for the city of Spokane.(The conference was included in The Spokesman-Reeview’s preview of MLK Day activities.)
While the conference was underway, the ODEI turned out in full force to host a booth at the annual resource fair, with both events having support from student volunteers.
President Shari McMahan participated in the events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and shared her gratitude in the January Eagle 1 newsletter:
“Thank you to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for organizing EWU’s booth! This year, we were also excited to have our passionate students from the Black Student Union lead the organization of a conference and workshop at the Spokane Convention Center: “Empowerment through Action. It was inspiring to hear from dedicated community leaders and see the diverse audience ready to help make our region more aware of on-going issues, and to provide ways in which we can all work together to promote activism for a more just and welcoming community,” McMahan said.
Here are a few photo highlights of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The original story, below, was published on Jan. 9
A conference organized by students from Eastern Washington University’s Black Student Union (BSU) will be a key component of this year’s MLK Day activities in downtown Spokane.
The “MLK Day of Service: Empowerment Through Action” workshop and conference, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., on Monday, Jan. 15, at Spokane Convention Center’s Centennial Ballroom, will meld presentations by notable community leaders with an activism workshop and a panel discussion.
Angela Schwendiman, assistant dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and director of Africana Studies, helped organize the conference, along with the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). She says the BSU students wanted to create an event focused on building a unified, collaborative community while honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
“They wanted to bring together students, faculty and staff to inspire a collective commitment to activism and equality for students of color and to foster a more inclusive and empowered educational environment,” she said.
The conference aligns with other MLK Day events that EWU participates in, including downtown Spokane’s annual rally and march. In addition, EWU’s ODEI will have a table at the MLK Day Resource Fair, which runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Although the BSU has regularly organized MLK Day of Service projects, Schwendiman believes this is the first time that students have organized an entire conference.
Schwendiman worked with Sanai Maraire, BSU’s president, Taylor Anumodu, a BSU member and senator for diversity outreach for ASEWU, and BSU member Jakiia Wilder to apply for a grant from the Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good to cover the cost of the conference.
“We got this opportunity, so I thought ‘Let’s jump on this and see what happens,’” says Schwendiman.
The Washington Campus Coalition is comprised of a network of universities that are committed to advancing the public purpose of colleges and universities, educating students for workforce and civic leadership, and working in partnership to cultivate vital and sustainable communities, according to its website. The coalition also sponsors a Student Civic Leadership Awards program, which is accepting nominations through Jan. 10.
After receiving word in November that the grant was approved, Schwendiman worked with the students to finalize the details of the conference.
The line-up of community speakers includes Betsy Wilkerson, who was recently elected as president of the Spokane City Council; Oscar Harris, chief family and community engagement officer for Spokane Public Schools; Robin Kelley, chief diversity officer at Gonzaga University; and Lisa Gardner, the newly elected president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who also serves as director of community engagement for the city of Spokane.
Students involved with BSU and EWU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will run the conference, and Schwendiman encourages the EWU community to participate: “I hope we get a good turnout and that people really enjoy it and people can take some things back with them that will help us build stronger community.”
Here is a schedule of EWU activities for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 15:
- MLK Day Unity Rally and March | 10 a.m. | Behind the Convention Center in downtown Spokane Put on your Eagle gear and join the EWU community and friends for the rally and march. The rally begins at 10 a.m. outside of the Convention Center. (Eagles and friends will gather after the Rally behind the Convention Center, by the river. (Look for EWU banners and signs.)
- EWU Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the MLK Day Resource Fair | 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Convention Center
- Empowerment Through Action: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Conference and Workshop | 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. | Convention Center Central Ballroom Refreshments will be provided. For details, visit the online schedule.
- Official hosts for the conference include the Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good; EWU Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; EWU College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Africana Studies; and the Black Student Union.
To learn about the many inclusive opportunities at EWU, read the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion January e-newsletter.
For questions about MLK Day activities, please contact Kim Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**On Monday, Jan. 15, EWU is closed. Participation in events is voluntary.
- Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good
- EWU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
- Africana Studies
- Black Student Union