Ohio University Finds Innovative Way to Celebrate MLK Day During COVID-19

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Photo of students and faculty at Ohio University walking on campus during Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

Ohio University (OHIO) celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18, 2021, with a unique twist on the day’s traditional events to allow for social distancing due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Photo of a woman wearing a mask that says MLK 2021.“This year’s MLK celebration looks different than in years past, but we remain unwavering in our dedication to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service and action,” Gigi Secuban, EdD, OHIO vice president of diversity and inclusion, stated.

Members of the university and local community were able to safely gather together at a large drive-in celebration at OHIO’s Peden Stadium. The event featured OHIO alumnus and Emmy-nominated CBS News journalist Jericka Duncan as a speaker and included a free brunch that participants could enjoy from their vehicles. Duncan’s speech and student song and dance performances were aired on the stadium big screen. Like at a drive-in movie theater, attendees could listen to the event through their car radios. It was also available on Facebook Live.

“Today, we renew our resolve to act together as one community, to create an anti-racist, inclusive and equitable OHIO and Athens community in which all can be safe, grow, thrive and realize their potential,” Secuban announced during the event.

Overhead shot of the parking lot where the Ohio University and local community gathered for the 2021 MLK Jr Day events.

The university hosted other virtual and socially distanced events throughout the course of the week. Students and alumni of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a historically Black fraternity, held a silent march. Other programs included a trivia night and workshops that focused on self-care, activism, community, and the arts.

This article was published in our March 2021 issue.