As a means to strengthen the University of Wisconsin community and celebrate the true meaning behind our day off from school, the university held a celebratory event at Union South Monday.

Students, staff and others gathered at Varsity Hall in Union South to commemorate MLK Day, and to honor and memorialize Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

This event also aimed to open up conversations regarding diversity more broadly, as a means to both remember the progress King made, but to also dismantle racial discrimination on campus.

The event consisted of a free lunch, student speakers and a collective social justice art project all participants were invited to help with. Wheelhouse Studios led participants, with no prior artistic skills needed, in a project centered on peace and nonviolence.

The event was organized through the collaborative efforts of the Multicultural Student Center, The Morgridge Center for Public Service, The Center for the First Year Experience and The Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement. Their combined efforts resulted in an event that served the missions of each organization collectively, through the use of open dialogue surrounding justice and diversity.

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Organizers of the event also encouraged those attending to help bring food or nonperishable items to donate to the Open Seat Campus Pantry — particularly items that are currently needed such as cereal, snack foods, body soap and feminine care products.

While the event was initially created and intended for UW students and staff, the organizations involved ensured that it was an open, inclusive space in which all were welcome to attend.