“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Friends-Colleagues,

As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, I wanted to share with you information on VCU’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week which begins Sunday. A series of events from Jan. 20-26 — including a day of service and keynote remarks from local civic leaders — will offer the university community an opportunity to honor the iconic civil rights leader.

MLK Celebration Week is hosted by the Division for Inclusive Excellence. Highlights during the week include:

MLK Day of Service
Jan. 21, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Evergreen Cemetery, 50 Evergreen Road
The historic cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of individuals, including notable Richmond leaders Maggie Walker and John Mitchell Jr. Volunteers will travel as a group to a restoration project and then return to campus for a free lunch and small-group reflections. Register online.

Candlelight vigil
Jan. 21, 6 p.m., The Depot, 814 W. Broad St.
This annual event — a silent vigil to commemorate King’s life — will include a march from The Depot to the front of James Branch Cabell Library.

MLK Legacy Night
Jan. 22, 7-9 p.m., Rams Lounge, University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.
Faculty, staff and students will enjoy music, spoken word and other creative performances that highlight and reflect on King’s legacy.

Keynote speeches
Jan 20-25, various locations
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, is a statement King echoed many times in his written work, sermons and speeches, including in his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and his “I Have a Dream” speech. Local leaders will discuss this recurring theme in a series of keynote remarks:

  • Rev. Tyrone Nelson, pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
    Jan. 20, 6 p.m. (reception at 5 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.
  • Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum
    Jan. 23, 4 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave. 
  • Jason Kamras, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools
    Jan. 24, 2 p.m., Cabell Library, Lecture Hall Room 303, 901 Park Ave.
  • Rep. Donald McEachin
    Jan. 25, 1 p.m. (doors open at 12:30 p.m.), Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St.

These events will focus on King’s legacy and ongoing efforts in the areas of social justice, public education and fair housing.

I hope you will be able to take advantage of some of these opportunities and other community events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his remarkable legacy.

Unifying themes among Dr. King’s messages and his life are a profound respect for each other and an enduring belief in the potential of each individual. May we live these out in our words and actions during 2019 and beyond.

With all good wishes,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System