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Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

King celebration Jan. 17 to feature prison education outreach

Augustana College's annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., event on Jan. 17 will highlight and explain how college in prison programs are part of the "dream of the beloved community" through the inspiring voices of formerly incarcerated students.

The theme — "Redemption: Carrying on MLK’s Vision of the Beloved Community" — and the day's programs reflect Dr. King's call to bring people together, bridge equity gaps and provide hope and opportunities for social change. 

Panelists will include men featured in the PBS documentary "College Behind Bars," and members of the Bard Prison Initiative and the Augustana Prison Education Program.

Community program

Jan. 17: The Quad Cities community is invited to hear the Bard Prison Initiative panelists at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. 

Campus programs

Jan. 17: Faculty, staff and students are invited to the panel discussion by the Bard Prison Initiative and the Augustana Prison Education Program at 10:30 a.m. via Zoom. 

January term classes will be held on an abbreviated schedule. Courses will meet for 90 minutes, either from 8:30-10 a.m. or from 2:30-4 p.m.

The documentary, "College Behind Bars" will be shown throughout the day in the You Belong Here Lounge, Gerber Center, fourth floor.

Jan. 19: The National Civil Rights Museum Virtual Tour will be offered at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. There will be a watch party in the Gävle Rooms in the Gerber Center. The event is open to the Augustana community and alumni.

The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated. The museum has a mission to “share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally.”

Jan. 17-21: An "I Have a Dream, Too" interactive exhibit will be open daily in the You Belong Here Lounge, Gerber Center, fourth floor. There will be activities throughout the week.

On Friday of that week, students are invited to a drop-in event from noon-3 p.m. to learn about Dr. King and his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. He delivered the speech on Aug. 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was a defining moment in the civil rights movement when Dr. King outlined his vision for equality, justice and freedom. 

Jan. 19: Campus Ministries will host a service to honor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to reflect on his words. Service begins at 8:31 p.m., Founders Hall, Ascension Chapel, second floor.

Bard Prison Initiative students

Bard Prison Initiative students filmed for the PBS documentary.

About the panelists

The 20-year-old Bard Prison Initiative is a program of Bard College that provides college education to people in prison. The academic programs end in associate and bachelor's degrees from Bard. Bard first started making the news when its debate team won against Harvard University in 2015.

The Augustana Prison Education Program, which began this fall, is modeled after the Bard Prison Initiative and was organized by Dr. Sharon Varallo. Ten men are attending classes this fall at East Moline Correctional Center, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

The four-hour documentary "College Behind Bars" was directed and produced by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns, and aired on PBS in November 2019. The series explores the lives of a dozen incarcerated men and women as they struggle to earn degrees.

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