Coe plans Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, Diversity Conference

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or

2018-01-09 13:47:31 - General

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 15, Coe College will offer two separate programs, including a celebration of King's life and legacy, as well as a Diversity Conference. Sponsored by the Coe Committee on Diversity and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, both events are free and open to the public.

Details of the events are as follows:

March and Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

9 a.m. – symbolic march from Phifer Commons in upper Gage Memorial Union to Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall

Students, faculty and staff from the Coe community, along with leaders from the greater Cedar Rapids area, will join in the march across campus at 9 a.m. to celebrate Dr. King's calls for justice, peace, unity, nonviolence and freedom.

When the group convenes in Hickok Hall, several short remembrances will be given. The celebration will also include MLK montage videos and gospel music.

Diversity Conference

1 p.m. – Kesler Lecture Hall and classrooms in Hickok Hall
The Diversity Conference will feature various speakers who will reflect on some of today’s social justice issues, as well as Dr. King's legacy. Breakout sessions will be held as follows, with a keynote speech to conclude the conference.

1 p.m. – Welcome by Erik Albinson, vice president for student development and chief diversity officer at Coe College.

1:15 p.m. – breakout sessions
Coe College History Professor Derek Buckaloo will discuss "MLK: How We Remember…and Forget." His research interests center on the American war in Vietnam and its effects on American culture, society and politics. Professor Buckaloo's courses include many subjects in 20th-century U.S. history, including the Vietnam War, the 1960s and the Cold War era, as well as Native American history, Latin American history and film studies.

Coe alumna Lauren Garcia serves as the assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment at the University of Iowa. Her presentation is entitled "Taking Friendship One Step Further: Becoming a Better Ally." Garcia coordinates the Iowa Edge program, which is a pre-orientation program for incoming first-generation and underrepresented students on the Iowa campus. 

2:15 p.m. – breakout sessions
Ellen Daye Owens is a senior leadership facilitator at West Wind Education Policy Inc. She recently retired from the Cedar Rapids Community School District, where she served as facilitator, principal and manager of student discipline and attendance. Owens will be speaking on "Understanding Implicit Bias."

Karl Cassell is the president and CEO of Perhaps Today Inc., an information technology company that provides solutions for individuals in politics, religion and finance. Most recently, Cassell served as president and CEO of Horizons, A Family Service Alliance. He will be giving a presentation entitled "Will Your Legacy Be Viewing or Involvement."

3:15 p.m. – keynote speaker 
The Diversity Conference will conclude with keynote speaker Stacey Walker, who will focus on Dr. King's legacy and what we can all do to make a difference in Cedar Rapids. Walker is a Cedar Rapids native who is the first African American to serve as a Linn County Supervisor. Previously, he served as the chief of staff for Patel Endeavors and Hawkeye Hotels. 

A community activist, Walker is an advocate for social justice, tolerance and equality. Dedicated to service and involvement, he focuses on fostering opportunities for children and youth. In 2010, Walker helped launch the LBA Foundation, a Cedar Rapids non-profit that helps middle and high school students stay on track to graduate.

"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." - Martin Luther King Jr.