Carnegie Mellon University

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community:

Beginning on Monday, January 18, and throughout the coming weeks, the Carnegie Mellon University community will take time to observe the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate the legacy of one of our nation’s most important leaders. Coming together to reflect on the impact of Dr. King’s life allows us to reaffirm our commitment to the ideals he espoused: openness, inclusion, peace and mutual respect.

We encourage each of you to attend and engage in the many opportunities CMU offers around the issues of diversity, inclusion and social justice. This expanded commemoration schedule will allow us to make the conversations inspired by Dr. King an important part of our ongoing campus dialogue. 

These educational and celebratory activities have been developed in collaboration with faculty, staff and students from various disciplines and represent many passionate and creative ideas from your peers. It is our hope that each member of the university community will find an event, service opportunity or discussion that honors the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in a way that is personally meaningful. Highlights include the following:

  • Jan. 18: A special interactive diversity experience, entitled The Conversation: “Student Voices,” will feature discussions, a featured panel and experiential activities about diversity, social activism and social change. Registration will begin at 12 p.m. in the Cohon University Center, Rangos 2 & 3.
  • Jan. 18: The annual tradition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards. The program – now in its 17th year – encourages local high school and college students to reflect on their personal experiences with race and discrimination. The ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. in Rangos Hall and will feature live readings from this year’s winners as well as musical performances from the School of Drama and a special presentation from the Colfax Elementary drumming corps.
  • Feb. 11: The University Lecture Series (ULS) featured speaker for our MLK Jr. celebrations is Jelani Cobb, a distinguished writer for The New Yorker and Director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. Professor Cobb will deliver a lecture about his perspective on the complexities of race in America.
  • Service opportunities: Students, faculty, and staff are invited to put the values of Dr. King into action in ways that will impact the whole of our community, both here on campus and in the greater Pittsburgh area. Some suggested service opportunities are:

Monday, Jan. 18, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

  • Serve Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable population with L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry, a homeless outreach organization in Pittsburgh. To sign up, visit

Monday, Jan. 18, 2 p.m.

  • Join PACE in the Connan Room at the Cohon University Center as we pack 150 bagged lunches for the Light of Life Rescue Mission and discuss the social issues surrounding hunger and homelessness.

Saturday, Jan. 23

  • Our annual MLK Day of Service will begin at 9 a.m. and continue through early afternoon. Participants will meet in the Cohon Center and will be sent off to service sites around the Pittsburgh area. Register at

Details of these and many other planned programs are available at

We hope to engage with many of you during these moments of observation and together, be inspired by Dr. King’s example.


Farnam Jahanian, Provost
Gina Casalegno, Dean of Student Affairs