By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney will celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during the second annual MLK Day of Service on campus.
Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room, the event recognizes King’s impact as a social activist and civil rights leader while spreading his message and promoting the “beloved community” he dreamed of.
“The MLK Day of Service is an opportunity to positively impact our community and ensure we’re living and practicing the gospel of unity and social justice he championed,” said Luis Olivas, assistant director of UNK’s Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion. “Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough to just talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible, and we must follow suit on our campus.”
Thursday’s event begins with a keynote address from former state Sen. Ernie Chambers, who will discuss his longtime commitment to public service and the importance of being difference makers in our communities. UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen, who served alongside Chambers in the Nebraska Legislature, will provide the introduction.
A self-proclaimed “defender of the downtrodden,” Chambers represented North Omaha for 46 years, making him the longest-serving state senator in Nebraska history. First elected to the Legislature in 1970, at age 33, he’s inspired generations of Nebraskans to pursue racial justice and equity.
“Sen. Chambers has dedicated most of his life to service and the betterment of our state, especially for those hurt by discrimination, racism and poverty,” Olivas said. “It’s important for people to hear his message: that one must lead, be brave and fight for things that matter.”
The keynote address is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 10:30 a.m. It will also be livestreamed on the UNK Student Diversity and Inclusion Facebook page. In-person attendees must wear a face mask.
Following the address, UNK students and employees are invited to participate in a service project from noon to 4 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room, where they will create personal hygiene care packages for those in need. The care packages will be distributed through the Loper Pantry, as well as Crossroads Mission Avenue and Kearney Jubilee Center.
The MLK Day of Service is sponsored by the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion and UNK Fraternity and Sorority Life.