Campus Life

Penn State campus events honor, celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, legacy

The student-led, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee will present the Evening Celebration for the 35th annual MLK Jr. Commemoration Week at University Park, featuring speakers Symone D. Sanders and Bakari Sellers, on Jan. 22. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Editor’s note: Check back often — this story will be updated as events are added.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State community will honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during the 35th annual MLK Commemoration at University Park, with events on Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and during the month of January.


Through Jan. 17, members of the Penn State community can help empower individuals by donating nonperishable food items to your campus Lion Pantry or food bank.

At Penn State University Park, donation boxes are available at Pattee Library and Paterno Library's East entrance on Curtin Road. For questions, contact Danica E. White at

Donation boxes also are available at these participating Penn State campus libraries: Altoona​, Behrend​, Berks​, Brandywine​, DuBois​, Harrisburg​, Hershey​, and Mont Alto.


Jan. 18 — MLK: A Musical Remembrance: Join us to remember MLK with beautiful music and stirring words. Enjoy folk/blues artist Eric Ian Farmer, the UUFCC Choir, UUFCC Song Circle, and musician Doug Irwin. Contact for more information. 6:30–9 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, 780 Waupelani Dr. Ext., State College.

Jan. 20 — Join us for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service: We will start in Alumni Hall with breakfast, a warm welcome and an educational piece, and then split up to go to sites on campus and in the State College community. Participants should be sure to wear warm clothes in case they will be outside. T-shirts and food will be provided. Check-in for individual students is first come, first-served, until all sites are filled. Open to Penn State students with valid ID. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m., meet at Alumni Hall, HUB-Robeson Center.

Jan. 20 — The University Libraries Diversity Committee will offer two screenings of "Freedom Summer." The film, directed by Marco Williams, narrates the events of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, when more than 700 student activists took segregated Mississippi by storm to protest the systematic exclusion of African Americans from the political process. 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library

Jan. 20 — The Essence of Joy Choir will perform sacred and secular music that is rooted within African and African American traditions. 1:30 p.m., Franklin Atrium, first floor Pattee Library.

Jan. 20World in Conversation Day of Dialogue. On Jan. 20, MLK Day, World in Conversation is partnering with the offices of the President and the Vice Provost for Educational Equity to offer facilitated dialogues for 750 faculty, staff, administrators and students. Each of the sessions is 90 minutes long and will include participants from each of these four populations. Preregistration is required and is first-come, first-served. To register and for more information visit

Jan. 21MLK Birthday Remembrance: In collaboration with State College Borough, join others at the State College Municipal Building for a moment of remembrance of King’s birthday, and speeches about his legacy's impact on today's society. Refreshments will be provided. 3:30 p.m., State College Municipal Building, 243 S. Allen Street, downtown State College.

Jan. 22 — The student-led, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee will present the Evening Celebration for the 35th annual MLK Jr. Commemoration Week at University Park. The event will feature speakers Symone D. Sanders and Bakari Sellers. Priority entrance, on a first-come, first-served basis, will be given to students with a valid Penn State University Park photo ID. Community members are welcome to attend and will be seated based on availability. 5:30 p.m., Schwab Auditorium.

Jan. 23 — Speak for Peace Oratorial Contest: During this oratorical contest, student contestants will recite their essays live in front of a panel of judges for a chance to win a $500 book scholarship. This event also will feature performers and an educational component that aligns with the theme. No tickets are required; seating and food will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact 6 to 9 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center. Will be rescheduled in the case of inclement weather.

Jan. 24 — New York-based journalist and Earther reporter Yessenia Funes will give a talk, “Envisioning Environmental Justice in the Era of Climate Change,” as part of the Sustainability Showcase Series for MLK Commemoration Week. Sponsored by the Council of Sustainable Leaders. Register at to receive a complimentary lunch at the event. Noon-1:30 p.m., 233AB HUB-Robeson Center.

Jan. 24 — In partnership with the Restorative Justice Initiative, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Student Committee will present a Reentry Simulation and a panel discussion with guest speaker Nick Pressley. For more information, contact Sessions will be offered 10:30-noon; 1:15-2:30 p.m., and 3-4:30 p.m. — meet outside Alumni Hall at the start of each session. Pressley will speak at 9 a.m. in 129C HUB-Robeson Center.


Jan. 20 — Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Dine and Dialogue on Environmental Justice. Panelists will discuss their work and provide thoughts about how the audience can contribute to sustainability efforts and environmental concerns. This will be followed with a community discussion on environmental justice and the ability to impact local communities and Penn State Abington. Sponsored by the Center for Intercultural Leadership and Communication and Student Affairs. RSVP requested. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Lares Cafeteria.


Jan. 20 — Reflection luncheon and conversation: Attendees will hear about forms of protest used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then break into small groups to discuss current challenges and how to address them. Organizers hope participants will leave the event with tools to use today, this semester and this year, in combating racial inequality. The luncheon is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity, and International Student Services. It is free and open to the public. An RSVP to is recommended. Slep Student Center

Jan. 20 — Penn State Altoona students have the opportunity to volunteer for an MLK Day of Service event. Hosted by the Office of Student and Civic Engagement, students can volunteer to sort items donated to Blair County’s recent Share the Warmth drive, including hats, gloves, coats and blankets. 3:30-5 p.m., at the United Way of Blair County.

Jan. 22 — A free, public showing of the film "Selma" will be offered. 6:30 p.m., Slep Student Center.


Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day banquet, "Dare to Dream" — Hosted by Penn State Berks, this event is free for the campus community but seating is limited and attendees must reserve their tickets in advance. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., Perkins Student Center Multipurpose Room.


Jan. 20 — Community members are invited to join Penn State Brandywine students, faculty and staff on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a morning of family-friendly service activities. 10 a.m. to noon, Student Union, Brandywine campus, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media.


Jan. 20 — Students and members of the campus community are invited to the Penn State Lehigh Valley Annual MLK Jr. Day of Service, where they will volunteer for the 11th Annual Ecumenical Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program and community meal. The meal, which is free for the community, will be held at St. James U.C.C. Sanctuary, 37 S. 15th St., Allentown. Students will assist in preparing and serving the lunch. Students can sign up with the link they received via email or stop by 214 or 218 to sign up, after which they will receive additional scheduling information.


Jan. 20 — Penn State Greater Allegheny will welcome Jeff Ballounews editor for the Americas at Al Jazeera Media Network’s English language channel, to its Martin Luther King Day of Service event. Ballou will deliver the keynote address, “The ABC’s of Every Lion Counts”, a reflection on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last and biggest question, “Where do we go from here?” 9:45 a.m., Ostermayer Room of the Student Community Center. 


Jan. 20 — Penn State Scranton will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with its fifth annual MLK Day Luncheon and Excellence in Diversity Awards ceremony, followed by a day of service. Glynis Johns, founder and CEO of The Black Scranton Project, will be the guest speaker. Events are open to the public. Anyone interested in attending can fill out the online form at or contact Dharti Ray at or 570-963-2685.11 a.m., The View Cafe


Through Jan. 23 — Penn State Wilkes-Barre is supporting community organizations through a donation drive, coordinated by the Staff Advisory Council as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Service. Decorated boxes for donated items are located in the student commons. A list of needed items and participating organizations is available here.


Jan. 18 — A Peace Walk begins at 10 a.m. at the Klump Academic Center, followed by refreshments and a short celebration program in the auditorium. For more information, contact Sammie Davis, 0-11:30 a.m., Klump Academic Center, West Third Street.

Jan. 20 — Pack & Share Event, MLK Day of Service Project: Penn College volunteers will help pack meal kits to benefit community members in need, in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. For more information, contact Sammie Davis, 9 a.m. to noon, Lycoming College Recreation Center.

Jan. 23 — Mike Africa Jr., hip-hop artist and motivational resilience speaker, will present the program “Born on the MOVE." For more information, contact Sammie Davis, 7 p.m., Klump Academic Center Auditorium.

Last Updated April 15, 2021