Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

Otterbein University will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18, 2023, with its annual convocation — featuring a keynote address by Dr. Donja Thomas and the return of Otterbein’s Gospel Choir — and a service project to benefit children living in the YWCA Family Shelter, Westerville Area Resource Ministries’ Share Bac-a-Pac children, and homeless families in Columbus. All events are open to the public.

The day’s schedule is as follows:

  • 3 p.m.: MLK Convocation featuring Dr. Donja Thomas, Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St.
  • 4:15 p.m.: Reception with Dr. Donja Thomas, Roush Hall, 27 S. Grove St.
  • 5-7 p.m.: Pack-the-Mac and More Service Event, Campus Center, 100 W. Home St. Volunteers can sign up for 30-minute sessions. Contact Micia Clemmons at mclemmons@otterbein.edu.

The theme of this year’s event is “Together We can be THE Dream” — a theme that is shared with The King Center in Atlanta and with cities across our nation.

“We believe that this theme fits nicely with our aim to help our students envision how they might commit to community service, activism, and giving to the betterment of others,” said Frank Dobson, director of Otterbein’s Office for Social Justice and Activism.

National Day of Racial Healing

In addition to our MLK celebration on Jan. 18, Otterbein will participate in the National Day of Racial Healing on Jan. 17. Otterbein will host a livestream screening of The Healing Power of Story Telling, a critical dialogue featuring a panel of national experts presented by Courageous Conversation, at 2 p.m. in the University Chapel. The livestream will be followed by a Q&A. This event is sponsored by the Otterbein University Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center and the Office of Social Justice and Activism. 

In addition to the viewing, the Otterbein TRHT Campus Center will host multiple online Rx Racial Healing Circles on Tuesday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 20.

What are Rx Racial Healing Circles?  Developed by Dr. Gail Christopher, founder of TRHT, “A healing circle’s purpose is to reaffirm the humanity in all of us. And it lifts up what unites us rather than what divides us; while discovering, respecting and honoring the unique experiences of each person. A trained racial healing practitioner, or a pair, facilitates the circles, leading the dialogues with a provocative question that can lead to generative conversations throughout the process” (p. 6, Healing Our Communities). 

The Racial Healing Circles are part of our TRHT Campus Center’s work to connect with one another along our common humanity, to share suppressed stories, and to dismantle hierarchies in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities.. 

Racial Healing Circles will be offered on the following dates/time: 

Tuesday, January 17, 12:00-2:00 pm EST 

Tuesday, January 17, 3:30-5:30 pm EST 

Friday, January 20, 2:30-4:30 pm EST 

Sign up by completing this form. Space is limited. If we have more registrants than we have room for, we will email you about future opportunities.  You will receive an email from us with links for joining the session. 

2023 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Keynote Speaker: Dr. Donja Thomas

Dr. Donja Thomas understands the need for service and activism, as an innovative and passionate educator, activist, writer, scholar, and Black studies curriculum developer whose life and career embody servant leadership.

She is committed to establishing learning spaces of introspection that generate more critical and expansive understandings about cultural consciousness, social justice and equity-focused research, teaching, and service.

For over a decade, Thomas has been engaged in creating classroom curriculums that center the use of cultural relevant and sustaining pedagogies, critical conscious literacies and the importance of employing curricular practices rooted in the Black experience (literary, historical, and cultural) inside and outside the classroom to advance Black Studies in K-12 schooling.

She provides classroom opportunities for students that enhance their knowledge of the various contributions made to the U.S. and beyond by peoples of African descent. She also co-constructs with racially diverse student’s brave spaces in which they can be open and vulnerable, honor their beings, and honestly critique constructs of race, class, and identity through examination of Black cultural and literary practices.

Donja ThomasDr. Donja Thomas

View our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Online

Wednesday, Jan. 18 – 3 p.m.