Happy New Year and the beginning of another semester as a Mercerian. We ended 2021 with a big bang. As we closed the year, we celebrated several holidays and spiritual traditions including Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Did you know Mercer has over 25 religious and spiritual affiliations within its current student population?
As we welcome faculty and staff back to campus, they have several events to look forward to this semester starting with the fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream march and vigil. Mercer students, faculty and staff are invited to join in the annual event to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.
The event will be held Jan. 13 on the Macon campus, starting at 3:30 p.m. with the march from the bear statue at the University Center to Willingham Auditorium. At 4 p.m., Mercerians will reaffirm our commitment to racial equality and justice for all people with a keynote address from Double Bear alumna Sheknita Davis, founder and CEO of The People’s Advocacy Group. She will be reflecting on this year’s theme, “A Time to Break the Silence.”
In previous years, attendees received words of hope and inspiration from prestigious alumni including Judge W. Louis Sands, a current member of the Mercer Board of Trustees, and Gordon State College President Dr. Kirk Nooks, a Mercer alumnus.
During this year’s event, masks are required and social distancing must be maintained. The first 100 attendees who are Mercer students, faculty or staff will receive a free T-shirt. The event also will be live streamed on Zoom. Please register for the event — regardless of whether you plan to attend in person or virtually — by clicking here.
Students this year will also be able to mark the MLK holiday as a “day on and not a day off” by volunteering as part of the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 17 at the Brookdale Resource Center from 9 a.m.-noon and the Food as Medicine Clinic and Pantry from 12-4 p.m. Sign up for those events, and view more as they are added, on BearPulse.
In addition, many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members will celebrate Dr. King’s legacy at the city of Macon’s annual gathering in Rosa Parks Square at 10 a.m. Jan. 17. A breakfast will precede the event at 8:30 a.m. at the Tubman Museum.
The next edition of the “Mercer Mondays” podcast, scheduled to drop Jan. 17, will highlight current civil rights issues and ways that students can break their silence. The episode will feature lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ambassadors Kennia Kirksey and Ifeoma Mbanaso alongside Dr. Kedrick Hartfield, the longest-serving Black professor at Mercer, and Dr. Chester Fontenot, professor and director of Africana studies.
On Jan. 27, Mercerians are invited to a watch party to view the critically acclaimed documentary “King in the Wilderness” in Willet Auditorium on the Macon campus at 6:30 p.m. This movie is a part of the spring semester’s Mercer Social Justice Book Club. “King in the Wilderness” chronicles the final chapters of Dr. King’s life. The documentary debuted in 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival and was directed by Peter Kunhardt.
Looking ahead, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated Feb. 1, and celebrations will culminate with the Lantern Festival on Feb. 15 nationwide. The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 16 days; however, only the first seven days are a public holiday.
This year is known as the Year of the Tiger, according to the Sheng Xiao, or the Chinese Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is comprised of 12 animals. The Tiger represents years 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 and 2022. The Tiger is the third of all of the Chinese zodiac signs. If you want more information about how to celebrate and ways to educate yourself on the Chinese New Year, please see chinesenewyear.net.
In previous years, Mercer Asia has celebrated the Chinese New Year in Penfield Hall. The undergraduate student organization has hosted a campus-wide Lunar New Year dinner with free food, prizes and fun performances. According to Mercer Asia representatives, during Lunar New Year, Asian families come together to share meals, wish each other good fortune and celebrate the coming year. They want to create that same experience for Mercer’s Lunar New Year attendees and their members while helping them to learn more about Asian cultures.