Envisioning MLK’s Promised Land


Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than a holiday. It’s a day to commit ourselves to pursuing equity and inclusion in our communities — a commitment United Way firmly embraces.

On Monday, Jan. 15, United Way will join millions of people and organizations across the nation in honoring and celebrating the life, legacy and vision of the great civil rights leader.

In preparation, United Way’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee revisited Dr. King’s final speech, delivered in Memphis the day before his death. (If you haven’t heard it, it’s worth a listen.) Known as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” an excerpt of the speech was read aloud by UWBCKR Vice President of Community Impact Matt Lynn.

“It was a poignant reinforcement of the important work United Way does daily to promote equity and inclusion,” Lynn said. “MLK Day is a chance to remember, to honor, to celebrate Dr. King — and to carry his work forward.”

Action is the key to reaching the “Promised Land” that Dr. King cites in that speech. All of us at United Way encourage you to connect with one or more of the volunteer, education and celebratory events taking place in the coming days:


  • Day of Service: In Kalamazoo, many organizations are celebrating on Monday, Jan. 15, with a community-wide day of service. To see volunteer opportunities available, visit Volunteer Kalamazoo through Gryphon Place or call (269) 382-8350.


  • WMU events: A number of educational events are happening throughout the week at Western Michigan University. Find opportunities here.
  • Read: Check out this list of recommended reading from Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institution.


  • MLK Community Breakfast: Scheduled for 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 at First Congregational Church in Battle Creek.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Luncheon: Set for 12-1:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Washington Heights United Methodist Church, 153 N. Woods St., Battle Creek.
  • Martin Luther King Day Dinner: Join others for dinner on Jan. 15 at the Masonic Lodge in Battle Creek.
  • MLK Ecumenical Service: New Harvest Christian Center in Battle Creek is hosting a service at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14. Details here.


  • March to MLK Park: Groups will depart Monday from the flagpole at WMU’s Kanley Chapel at 3:30 p.m. and from Kalamazoo College’s Red Square at 4 p.m. The march will end at MLK Park in Kalamazoo at 4:30 p.m.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration: This event, set for 5-6 p.m. Jan. 15, will take place in two locations. In Battle Creek, the celebration is at Bronson Battle Creek’s Outpatient Center Atrium at 300 North Ave. In Kalamazoo, the community will gather at the State Theatre.
  • Award presentation: Dr. Lewis Walker Youth Social Justice Award Winners will be announced at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at City Hall in Kalamazoo.