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Purdue to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with events

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Columbia University law professor Patricia J. Williams will be the keynote speaker at Purdue University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration called “Walk the Talk.”

Patricia J Williams

Patricia J. Williams keynotes the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Purdue.

Williams, who is the author of three books and has been published widely in the areas of race, gender, and law, as well as legal theory and legal writing, will speak at 7 p.m., Jan. 21 at Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

Williams is a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Law School. She has served on faculties of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, Harvard University’s Women’s Studies Program, and the City University of New York Law School at Queen’s College. As a law professor, she has testified before Congress and acted as a consultant and coordinator for various public interest lawsuits. Before entering academia, she practiced law as a consumer advocate and deputy city attorney for the City of Los Angeles, and as a staff attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

Williams’ speech, titled “Seeing a color blind future,” is one of several events related to Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Purdue.

Other activities pertaining to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration include:

  • The Boiler Care-and-Share nonfood donation drive will continue through Thursday (Jan. 14). Those interested may place their donations at boxes located at various buildings on campus. Suggested items include baby powder, brushes, bathroom tissue, bath soap, mouthwash, combs, pens, notepads and dictionaries. For a complete list of suggested items and dropoff locations, visit The items will be donated to Food Finders Food Bank Inc., which serves 16 Indiana counties including Tippecanoe.
  • Students, staff and community volunteers will participate in a Day of Service on Monday (Jan. 18) to help local nonprofit agencies. Those interested in volunteering must sign up by Friday (Jan. 15) by contacting the Boiler Volunteer Network at 765-496-2450 or via e-mail at or by visiting
  • On Monday, volunteers will begin checking in at 9 a.m. at Shreve Hall prior to a continental breakfast. Their work, throughout the Greater Lafayette area, will start at 10 a.m. An appreciation luncheon will follow from 12:30-2 p.m. at Shreve Hall.
  • The Purdue Dreamer Award will be presented to Thelma Snuggs, assistant professor of consumer sciences and retailing, after Williams’ keynote speech on Jan. 21. The award, established in 2004, is given annually to an individual or organization within the Purdue community whose contributions embody Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of service to others and further the university’s commitment to diversity.
  • The Diversity Roundtable and Greater Lafayette Commerce will host a news conference at 10 a.m. Monday at the Tippecanoe County Public Library in downtown Lafayette, where results of a diversity climate survey will be released. The survey, which was conducted by the Purdue Social Research Institute, addresses the attitudes of the greater Lafayette community toward diversity. JoAnn Miller, interim head of Purdue’s Department of Sociology, analyzed the survey’s results.

The Diversity Roundtable is a volunteer community group sponsored by Greater Lafayette Commerce to promote diversity in the community. Participants include concerned residents and representatives from various local businesses and organizations.

Martin Luther King Jr. events are sponsored by the Diversity Resource Office in collaboration with the Office of the Provost, Black Cultural Center, African American Studies and Research Center, Office of the Vice President for Housing and Food Services, Latino Cultural Center, Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and the Boiler Volunteer Network.

For more information, contact the Diversity Resource Office at 765-494-7307 or e-mail

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 October 2020