Community Engagement & Service


50 years of the Civil Rights Act!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week 2014

January 20th - 28th

MLK Week will provide attendee the opportunity to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement through volunteer engagement in DC communities, lectures, panel discussions, performing arts, music, and workshops. This is a campus wide initiative with direct support from a variety of off-campus sources.  We look forward to having you all support by attending our events.  

Click here to see the MLK Week 2014 Poster!

Monday, January 20th

A History of African American Student Leadership

Tavern, 9:30-10:00am

African American student leadership has been an integral part of the African American college experience as well as the fight for rights and equality for the community. In this session, participants will learn about the origin of African American student leadership and its role in the advancement of the African American agenda in the United States from 1876 to Present. Presented by Tim Staples, Assistant Director, Student Leadership, RHA.

MLK Day of Service

CCES - MLK Day of Service 2013
Tavern, 8:30-9:30am (Volunteer Registration) and 9:30-10:00am (Kick-Off Lecture).

Monday, January 20th
8:30am - Site registration begins and free breakfast (in the AU Tavern)
9:00am - President Kerwin will address volunteers
9:15am - Tim Staples presents on the History on Student Leadership
9:45am - Volunteers depart the Tavern

10:30am - Volunteers arrive at site location
12:30pm - Lunch
2:00pm - Reflection Activity
2:30pm - Volunteer depart site headed back to AU

About 400 American University volunteers will work with District residents and local non-profit organizations to honor the social justice efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through direct service. We will work around several issue areas, which include hunger and homelessness, HIV/AIDS, senoir living, education and youth development, etc. Through these projects we hope to raise greater awareness of present day issues challenging our Nation's capital.

Sign-up to Volunteer!

Tuesday, January 21st

Women in the Civil Rights Movement

civil rights march on Washington, D.C.

SIS Founder's Room, 12:00-2:00pm.

Pat Lawson Muse, Anchor, NBC

Dr. Debra L. Schultz, Historian and Author of “Going South; Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement”

Dr. Thelma T. Daley
, National Director of Women in NAACP (WIN) and former National President of Delta Sigma Theta

Dr. Patricia Parker,
Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, & Founder of The Ella Baker Women's

A group of scholarly panelists will examine, analyze, and profile the accomplishments of these women and how they impacted the country as we know it today. In addition, panelists will discuss what lead the Jewish community to support this movement and subscribe to the cause. The panelists will explore and analyze the accomplishments of these women and their impact on the nation then and now.

Poynter Lecture: Congressman Elijah Cummings

McDowell Formal Lounge, 7:00-9:00pm.

Congressman Cummings has dedicated his life of service to uplifting and empowering the people he is sworn to represent. He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. Since 1996, Congressman Cummings has proudly represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.The Congressman will address the advancements in social justice that that Americans have experienced within 50 years of the passing of the Civil Rights Act. He will summarizing the progress and setbacks that impact Americans today.

Wednesday, January 22nd

Art for the People

Bender Library Graduate Research Center, 12:00 -1:00pm

Whether it was Gil Scott-Heron or Nikki Giovanni; Ntozake Shange or Amiri Baraka; Audre Lorde or Curtis Mayfield, artists of the 1960s and 1970s saw themselves as voices of change. Like the songs the marchers often sang, the poetry, popular music, plays, and spoken word of the movement claimed to be the voice of the people. Through their words, their aesthetic innovations, and their celebration of cultural heritage, they sought, like the marchers, to bring freedom into being. How did that happen? How did it work? At what cost? Can it still work today? Come to this teach-in on January 22 built from the expertise of Prof Kyle Dargan and Prof. Keith Leonard to find out. Let’s celebrate these voices. And let’s explore how artists today can be voices for change.

King Unspoken!

Battelle Atrium, 7:00-8:00pm

Theatre Professor Caleen Sinnette Jennings and AU students present a theatrical reading that explores current perceptions of Dr. King.

Gospel Concert and Candle Light Vigil

Kay Chapel, 8:00-9:00pm

8:00PM. - Welcome & The Occasion
- Invocation - Chaplain Joe Eldridge
- Processional of the AU Gospel Choir  
   Concert & Lecture by Professor, Sylstea Sledge
    and the AU Gospel Choir
- Songs of the Civil Rights
- Portaits of Gospel Artist of the Movement
    Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward Singers,
     Thomas Dorsey

8:55PM. Benediction & Remarks

9:00PM. Candle Light Recessional

Thursday, January 23rd

Promoting Equal Housing Rights Workshop

Bender Library Graduate Research Center, 12:00 -1:00pm

The Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil-rights organization dedicated to promoting equal opportunity in housing, employment, and access to public accommodations and government services through education, research, testing, advocacy, and enforcement. The event will give individuals the opportunity to learn how to take direct action in ending discrimination and promote equal opportunity in the DC community.

Workshop on Civil Disobedience

Ben Johnson (in red shirt) with other members of the Community Action and Social Justice Coalition.

Bender Library Graduate Research Center, 7:00 -8:00pm

Join the Community Action and Social Justice coalition for a workshop/discussion with a DC organizer, Eugene Puryear, about the historical importance of civil disobedience and non-violent Direct Action to the Civil Rights movement. We will examine the ways in which civil disobedience has been used to advance the struggle for social justice. We will also be discussing effective ways to implement and use civil disobedience in our own social justice work.

Sports and Civil Rights

Bender Arena, 8:00 - 9:00pm

Washington College of Law professor Perry Wallace was the first African-American varsity athlete to be awarded an athletic scholarship in the Southeastern Conference. He will share his experiences as athlete on Vanderbilt University's men basketball team from 1967-1970.

Friday, January 24th

Mandela, Apartheid, and the Civil Rights Movement

Mary Graydon Center 200, 12:00 -1:00pm

The purpose of the teach-in is to celebrate and honor the life of former South African President and esteemed world leader Nelson Mandela. The goals of the teach-In are three-fold: to reach young people and engage them in a discussion about the life, legacy and leadership lessons of South African leader and former president Nelson Mandela; to inspire social activism related to issues and values championed by Mr. Mandela such as peace, social justice, and freedom; and to provide a historic and contemporary overview of the links between the solidarity movement in the United States and South Africa. resented by Professor Clarence Lusane.

Monday, January 27th

A History of the Civil Rights Movment with Julian Bond

NAACP vets Julian Bond and Benjamin Jealous discuss civil rights at American University.

Mary Graydon Center 200, 4:00-5:00pm

Professor Julian Bond Resident Scholar in the School of Public Affairs will share his stories as an activist during the Civil Rights movement.

Tuesday, January 28th

"Building Bridges between Places that Matter: Displacement and the Changing Significance of Washington, DC"

SIS Founder Room, 7:00-9:00pm

Urban development, good or bad? This panel addresses both sides of the argument through the voices and experiences of residents, policy makers, American University students and educators as well as local community organizers. This event will shed light on the financial and social impact of urban development in Washington, DC and to identify ways that students and alumni can actively engage Washington DC's various communities around issues of affordable and fair housing, urban development and the future diversity of the city.

Friday, January 30th

The Soul of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Dubois

Bender Library (Training and Events Room), 7:00-8:30pm

This seminal work in American sociology argues for the power of higher education, particularly the liberal arts and classical education, as a fundamental stepping stone for a diverse, democratic society that transcends race and global boundaries. In the face of growing college debt and a renewed focus on technical education, this work reminds us of the intrinsic value of higher education. Carola Weil, Dean of the School of Professional & Extended studies will lead the discussion. All members of the American University and greater Washington, D.C. communities are invited. Attendees are encouraged—but not required—to have read the book. Discussion will be led by Dean Carola Weil, Dean, School of Professional and Extended Studies.