December 7, 2022

Pastor, Justice Reform Organizer to Deliver MLK Keynote

Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook, a pastor and justice reform organizer with Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, will deliver the keynote address for UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Wednesday.

Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook, a pastor and justice reform organizer with Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, will deliver the keynote address for UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Wednesday.

Last March, Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook stood by Gov. Ralph Northam’s side as he announced that Virginia would become the first southern state to abolish the death penalty.

“Today, we turn the page in the history books,” said Cook, a Baptist minister and civil rights advocate, noting that the commonwealth once allowed the second highest number of modern-day executions in the country. This was the start of a new chapter, she said, focusing on “transforming the justice system into one that is rooted in fairness, accountability and redemption.”

Cook will share that story – how her work to end capital punishment began and where it’s going next – when she delivers the keynote address for the University of Mary Washington’s weeklong Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Sponsored by the Office of the President, her speech will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom. Participants may also register to attend virtually.

“We are honored that the UMW community will have the opportunity to hear from this amazing leader,” said Marion Sanford, director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC), which is hosting the celebration honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy. “Dr. Cook will undoubtedly educate, motivate and empower our students and others on social justice issues and how they too can affect positive change.” Read more.

Pastor, Justice Reform Organizer to Deliver MLK Keynote

Last March, Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook stood by Gov. Ralph Northam’s side as he announced that Virginia would become the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. “Today, we turn the page in the history books,” said Cook, a Baptist minister and civil rights advocate, noting that the commonwealth once allowed the second highest […]

James Farmer Multicultural Center presents 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, Jan. 17-22

Every January, our nation dedicates time to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His prophetic words on racial injustice, voting rights, economic justice, housing discrimination and public safety are still relevant more than 60 years later. One of Dr. King’s greatest desires for this nation and world was the achievement of a “Beloved Community” that embraces full inclusivity, equality, justice and love for all. In this community, everyone is able to enjoy the richness of the land and society, and human dignity and quality of life are paramount. We understand our work of forming the beloved community is far from attainment, but must stay steadfastly committed to positive social change, freedom and justice for all to achieve this reality. Join the James Farmer Multicultural Center as we celebrate the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook

Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote Speaker:  Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook
Wednesday, January 19 | 7 p.m. | Chandler Ballroom, University Center

Rev. Dr. LaKeisha Cook is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor concentration in Religious Studies and a Master’s of Divinity. She also earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and a Doctorate of Ministry degree as a Gardner C. Taylor fellow at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Cook was licensed into the gospel ministry at the Antioch Baptist Church; has served as the Youth Minister at Mount Hope Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia; as Minister of Children, Youth and Young Adults at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona; is the founding pastor of the Imani Community Church of Tempe, Arizona; and has served in various capacities for the multi-site campuses of Saint Paul’s Baptist Church. Dr. Cook has over 20 years of experience working in non-profits, education and the African American church. As a pastor and preacher, she uses her platform to educate and empower people on social justice and racial inequities, and she is passionate about justice reform. She served as a program administrator for the Kyrene School District in Tempe, Arizona, where she coordinated, implemented and ensured the quality of intervention and prevention programs and activities outlined in the eight-million dollar Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant. She also served as the Criminal Justice Reform Organizer for VICPP and led a successful campaign that abolished the death penalty in Virginia. She is currently working as an Equity Transformation Specialist for Pacific Educational Group, Inc.

Speaking Truth to Power
Thursday, January 20  |  6 p.m.  |  Lee Hall Underground

If you are interested in sharing your talent, please visit bit.ly/UMWSpeakTruth or email JoAnna Raucci (jraucci@umw.edu)

There is power in artistic expression. This event will feature art, music, dance and performances from members of the UMW campus community, who have created pieces or are sharing the works of others in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who have led the fight for human rights and social justice. Join us in this expression of our struggles, our triumphs and our power!

MLK Jr. Day of Service
Presented with UMW’s Center for Community Engagement
Saturday, January 22 |1 p.m. to 3 p.m. |  Chandler Ballroom, UC

Register here:  bit.ly/MLKDayUMW

Join your fellow students to celebrate our national Day of Service on the UMW campus. The MLK Day of Service is a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the “fierce urgency of now.” Observed each year as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Sign up to participate in the Day of Service at bit.ly/MLKDayUMW

Memoirist, Disability Rights Activist Kenny Fries Delivers Keynote

Author and disability rights activist Kenny Fries delivered the keynote address for JFMC’s Disability Awareness Month and Gender & Sexual Minorities & Allies cultural celebration at UMW. Photo credit: Michael R. Dekker.

Author and disability rights activist Kenny Fries delivered the keynote address for JFMC’s Disability Awareness Month and Gender & Sexual Minorities & Allies cultural celebration at UMW. Photo credit: Michael R. Dekker.

Acclaimed writer Kenny Fries had a message to impart last week when he spoke to University of Mary Washington students: “Disability is just a different way of moving through the world.”

Fries, an author and activist whose work focuses on his experiences of being disabled and gay, came to UMW to deliver the keynote address for James Farmer Multicultural Center’s duo of commemorations: Disability Awareness Month and Gender & Sexual Minorities & Allies cultural celebration. The event was held in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom and livestreamed via Zoom.

A prolific writer, Fries earned a master’s degree in playwriting from Columbia University. He has published the award-winning In the Province of the GodsThe History of My Shoes and The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and Body, Remember: A Memoir as well as several books of poetry, and he edited the literary anthology Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. Fries is also the recipient of numerous awards, grants and fellowships and is a two-time Fulbright Scholar. Read more.

JFMC Accepting Programs for 2022 Women’s History Month

Comic book lines on a red background with white text reading "2022 Women's History Month"The James Farmer Multicultural Center invites members of the University of Mary Washington community to submit proposals for the annual Women’s History Month Program. The theme for this celebration is, “The Power Behind Healing.” Proposals are due by Friday, December 3, 2021. The sponsor(s) will be notified promptly. Approved programs will be included on the Women’s History Month calendar, as well as in print and electronic publications. The 2022 Women’s History Month Program Proposal can be found here:  https://students.umw.edu/multicultural/files/2021/10/WHM-2022-Program-Proposal-Form.docx

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ms. JoAnna Raucci (jraucci@umw.edu).

JFMC Human Rights Film Series: ‘America Divided: Who Controls the Land?’

America Divided: Who Controls the Land? flierAmerica Divided: Who Controls the Land? | Thursday, November 4, 2021 | 6 PM | Colonnade Room, University Center 

Native American actor Martin Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument; while there, he uncovers the decades of struggle for equality by the county’s native citizens.

For more information, contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at (540) 654-1044 or umwjfmc@gmail.com. You may also visit students.umw.edu/multicultural. Please email us at umwjfmc@gmail.com if you have any questions regarding disability-related accommodations.

Memoirist, Disability Rights Activist Kenny Fries to Deliver Keynote

Acclaimed writer Kenny Fries has a message to impart tomorrow when he speaks to University of Mary Washington students: “Disability is just a different way of moving through the world.” Fries, an author and activist whose work focuses on his experiences of being disabled and gay, comes to UMW to deliver the keynote address for […]

UMW Senior Blossoms While ‘Planting Seed’ of Intersectionality

University of Mary Washington senior Desmoné Logan wields a rainbow of highlighters at the day planner displaying her dizzying schedule. RA duties get a splash of green. Pink’s for her off-campus job. And clubs? They’re listed – ubiquitously – in blue. A biomedical major who also runs track, Logan is president of Women of Color, […]

Tears, Applause and Song Greet Freedom Rides Marker

The old bus terminal – with its segregated restrooms and waiting areas – is no longer there.

Posing with the historical marker, from left to right, James Farmer Multicultural Center Associate Director JoAnna Raucci and Director Marion Sanford, Freedom Rider Dion Diamond and Assistant Director Christopher Williams. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Posing with the historical marker, from left to right, James Farmer Multicultural Center Associate Director JoAnna Raucci and Director Marion Sanford, Freedom Rider Dion Diamond and Assistant Director Christopher Williams. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

In its place, a permanent historical marker to commemorate the first stop on the 1961 Freedom Rides was unveiled yesterday afternoon, the result of efforts by University of Mary Washington staff, faculty and students, in partnership with the City of Fredericksburg. Sixty years after the history-making journey – in the presence of an original Freedom Rider and a vintage 1960s bus transported from a Roanoke museum – a diverse crowd mingled at the site and intertwined their voices as they sang “stayed on freedom,” many with tears in their eyes.

The project was spearheaded by Christopher Williams, a friend and mentee of Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., who organized the Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate travel. Farmer later taught at Mary Washington, where Williams is now the assistant director of UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center, dedicated to honoring the late civil rights icon’s legacy.

The nearly two-year process culminated on May 4 of this year when the state Department of Historic Resources approved the marker, and a smaller gathering honored the Freedom Rides’ 60th anniversary with the posting of a temporary marker.

To a crowd of more than 100 yesterday, Freedom Rider Dion Diamond, 80, said, “I wasn’t on that bus that came through Fredericksburg.”  A sophomore at Howard University when the sit-ins and Freedom Rides began, he said he just couldn’t stay away from the movement. Read more.

Tears, Applause and Song Greet Freedom Rides Marker

The old bus terminal – with its segregated restrooms and waiting areas – is no longer there. In its place, a permanent historical marker to commemorate the first stop on the 1961 Freedom Rides was unveiled yesterday afternoon, the result of efforts by University of Mary Washington staff, faculty and students, in partnership with the […]