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On Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) and Walla Walla University (WWU) are coming together to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with two events open to the entire Walla Walla community.

The MLK Day events precede Whitman’s second-annual Unity Week. Running from Jan. 25-29 and open to the Whitman, WWCC, and WWU communities, the week’s events will further explore some of the core messages of Dr. King’s teachings. The full schedule for MLK Day and Unity Week, including relevant Zoom links, is available online.

The civil rights leader's values of equity, nonviolence, education, love and hope are especially important today, says Laura Sanchez, director of the Intercultural Center at Whitman.

“In considering our current events and what we have endured this past year, there is a need to connect to humanity,” says Sanchez. “Our hope is that the MLK Day and Unity Week programs can serve in that capacity.”

Offering Tools and Hope

Divisive politics have not only widened the gap between red and blue states but have created rifts on a social, and sometimes familial, level.

“With that in mind, I am especially excited to introduce a workshop by Braver Angels, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to breaking down the normalization of extreme political and social polarization,” says Sanchez.

The Braver Angels workshop, “Depolarizing Within,” aims to show participants how to be critical without demonizing or stereotyping others and how to intervene constructively in social conversations.

The Unity Week events will feature diverse formats including musical performances, special guests, social media takeovers and facilitated discussions, to bring awareness to issues.

Sanchez says there are two things organizers would like participants to take away from Unity Week: tools for progressing social justice efforts and hope for the future.

Support for Unity Week events comes from the Whitman College Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of the President.