ORONO — For the first time, the University of Maine will cancel classes in observance of Martin Luther King Day on Monday.
The campus’ faculty senate unanimously voted in December to approve the holiday break. New UM President Peter Hoff, who came to Maine from California, had urged the faculty to endorse the day off in honor of the slain civil rights leader’s birthday, an official holiday in 49 states.
“Martin Luther King Day gives us all an opportunity to take time out and reflect on our own values and what we have done to treat others fairly and equally,” Hoff said. “It also gives us occasion to reflect on the lessons taught by his life: how the courage and determination of a single person can inspire others, galvanize a nation and affect the course of the world.”
The King Day observance at UM will center on the theme “Creating a Society at Peace With Itself.”
The day will begin with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in the Wells Conference Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children 12 and under. Scheduled speakers include Hoff, Maine Attorney General Andrew Ketterer and Ansley Coe Throckmorton, president of Bangor Theological Seminary.
At 9 a.m., the film “A Class Divided” will be shown in the Bangor Lounge in Memorial Union. In the days after King’s assassination in 1968, third-grade teacher Jane Elliot divided her class into groups based on their eye color and gave each group special privileges on alternating days. The film chronicles the experiment and includes follow-up interviews with Elliot’s former students.
A discussion of diversity and multiculturalism will take place at 11 a.m. in the Bangor Lounge.
At 12:30, the documentary “Martin, The Emancipator” will be shown in the lounge. A discussion will follow.
A presentation by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the University of Maine Human Rights Coalition will be held at 2 p.m. in the lounge.
A forum on enhancing multicultural relations on campus will begin at 3 p.m. in the Bangor Lounge. The first half of the two-hour event will feature a videotape of a 1992 satellite broadcast of a discussion by a panel of national experts who addressed ways to improve race relations on American college and university campuses.
This will be followed by a discussion of ways to enhance multicultural relations on the Orono campus. The discussion will be led by members of the Black Student Union, Los Colores Unidos, Student Heritage Alliance Center and Wilde-Stein Alliance for Sexual Diversity.
The day will end with a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Memorial Union.