Martin Luther King Jr. was deeply committed to serving others and helping foster a more just society. Every year, thousands of people across the United States come together to honor Dr. King through service projects and commemorative events. Virginia Western Community College will celebrate his work and teachings by making MLK Day a day on rather than just a day off. Virginia Western proudly launches its first annual MLK Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 18, intended to empower individuals and strengthen communities in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.

Virginia Western invites the community we serve to join in a series of virtual events on Jan. 18 to learn, grow and come together in the spirit of Dr. King. For a full schedule and to register for these free events, visit: Included in the day are speaker workshops, community virtual drop-in sessions and virtual service activities for students.

“Our classes will not be held in observance of MLK Day this year, but we will provide our students and our community with new opportunities to learn,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “We have brought together speakers to inspire us to follow Dr. King’s transformative teachings as well as local leaders to create change and encourage racial harmony, collaboration, and equity right here in our community. We are excited for this first step in what will be an annual opportunity to come together.”

Events will include:

  • Keynote speech. Presented by Dr. Judith R. James, a non-racist peace activist who is committed to serving and forging partnerships between and among organizations focused on healing racial hatred and discrimination by bringing all to the table of love, forgiveness, compassion, transformation, and reconciliation.
  • Civil Rights: The Story of Change and Persistence. Seminar by David Baylor, Virginia Western adjunct professor of history.
  • The Building Blocks of Financial Empowerment. A two-part seminar presented by Brandon Meginley, from the City of Roanoke’s Department of Economic Development, Damon Williams of First Citizens Bank, and Bill Jones of American National Bank & Trust Company.
  • Campus and Community Book Read and Discussion. The launch of a group book read to take place during Black History Month. The book selection will be revealed, as well as tips for participating and preparing for the discussion in February.
  • Community Virtual Drop-In Sessions. Opportunities for community members to get answers and guidance to take the next steps towards career and academic success.
  • Virtual Service Activities for Students. Students will have opportunities to spread peace and unity, show gratitude and compassion by practicing random acts of kindness, by sharing messages with senior citizens, military service members and veterans.