IU East’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration offers two days of events, including keynote by Karen Freeman-Wilson

IU East’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration offers two days of events, including keynote by Karen Freeman-Wilson

Indiana University East will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a Day of Service; keynote speaker Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor for the City of Gary; a Candlelight Vigil; and a presentation on the Underground Railroad.

Karen Freeman-Wilson

Events are free and open to the public. Events are co-sponsored by the IU East Diversity Events Committee and the School of Social Work.

On Monday, January 15, IU East will host a Day of Service with the American Red Cross of Richmond. Volunteers will install smoke detectors in homes where they are needed.

Volunteers should meet at 8:30 a.m. at the American Red Cross Office, located downtown at 829 E. Main Street in Richmond. Registration and refreshments begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by a short training session at 8:45 a.m. The ARC may provide transportation to do the installations depending on group size. Lunch will be provided for participants. The end time will depend on the number of installations scheduled.

To volunteer, or if you need a fire detector, contact Latishea Varnesdeel, chief diversity officer and special assistant to the chancellor, at (765) 973-8625 or lvarnesd@iue.edu.

On Tuesday, January 16, IU East will welcome Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor for the City of Gary, as its Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration keynote speaker at 10 a.m. in Vivian Auditorium, located in Whitewater Hall.

Following the keynote discussion, a Candlelight Vigil will be held at noon in the Meijer Artway.

“Dr. King is well known for his fight to ensure justice and equality for all,” Varnesdeel said. “Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, our keynote speaker this year, has also dedicated her life to this cause. Please join us to hear her speak about how we can come together as a community.”

Freeman-Wilson will discuss her participation in U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Mayors/Police Chiefs Working Group on Police Community Relations, which combats hate. One of the conferences’ initiatives is The Mayors’ Compact, which teaches anti-bias and anti-hate education. She chairs the Crime and Social Justice Committee for the conference and is also a member of its advisory board.

She became the first woman to lead the steel city of Gary and the first African-American female mayor in Indiana in December 2011. She served as the CEO of The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and executive director of The National Drug Court Institute based in Alexandria, Virginia. With Freeman-Wilson at the helm, the number of drug courts in the U.S. doubled and the NADCP became the premier organizational advocate for drug treatment in the judicial arena.

Freeman-Wilson has consulted with the Office of White House Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the creation and implementation of drug policy. As the twice-elected Gary City Judge, she helped pioneer the drug court movement in Indiana.

Freeman-Wilson has demonstrated public service and leadership in state government, serving as Indiana Attorney General and Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. She serves on the National League of Cities’ Board Executive Committee, Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force and the REAL (Race Equity and Leadership) Council. In November 2016, she was elected second Vice President (VP) of the organization’s Leadership and Board of Directors. She formerly chaired NLC’s Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee.

Previously, Freeman-Wilson visited Richmond in June 2017 as the speaker at the ATHENA Leadership Award® Dinner.

Also on Tuesday, IU East will host a presentation, “Underground Railroad Presentation: Denise Dallmer & the Coffin sisters” from 2-4 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium. A reception will follow.

“Denise Dallmer, faculty at IU East, will discuss her years of research on the Underground Railroad,” Varnesdeel said. “She believes that the Underground Railroad was the first attempt at providing civil rights to all. Please join us as she presents with the Levi Coffin House to discuss Indiana’s history and participation in the Underground Railroad.”


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