Luncheon, Discussion, and Walk the Walk Week

Walk the Walk Week, a week honoring the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., concluded on Wednesday, January 24 with the Social Concerns Fair. Other events during Walk the Walk Week, which actually lasted eleven days, included lectures, a photography exhibit, a film showing of The Princess and the Frog, performance art, and a Social Concerns Seminars information session. A luncheon designed to honor Dr. King himself constituted the most prominent events in this week of celebration.

The Martin Luther King Celebration Luncheon, which occurred on January 22, was a widely attended event that inspired discussion and thought about issues of diversity and inclusion. The university cancelled classes during the luncheon, allowing students to attend along with professors and community members. Thousands of attendees packed hundreds of tables in the JACC, where they received boxed lunches designed to eliminate food waste and to permit busy dining hall workers to enjoy the luncheon as well.

Voices of Faith Gospel Choir opened the luncheon with the spiritual song “I’ve Been Born Again.” Speakers, including Ann Firth, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, and University President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., also lent their voices to the conversation. Muslim Student Association President Hosnia Samadi gave a prayer in Arabic and followed with an English translation. The luncheon even featured the use of multimedia: a video featuring student and faculty members’ viewpoints on diversity and inclusion.

Corey Robinson ‘17 and his father, David Robinson, returned to Notre Dame to serve as guest speakers at the luncheon. The Robinsons, both popular figures at Notre Dame, discussed their work and their life philosophies and related both to Dr. King’s work. David Robinson, philanthropist and former NBA player, focused on his support of education in Texas. Robinson financed and helped found Carver Academy, a school in inner-city San Antonio. In addition to his work with Carver, Robinson has supported students with college scholarships.

The luncheon concluded with a prayer by graduate student Barbara Escobar and closing remarks by Ann Firth. In “our luncheon concludes, but may we each continue to walk the walk.”

The loud applause at the conclusion of the talk indicated that the Notre Dame community enjoyed the luncheon. Not all students, however, were completely satisfied with the talks.

“I think that they were great speakers and really inspired the crowd to not be discouraged in completing what they want to do,” said Emily Luong. Luong, a member of Diversity Council, approved of the Robinsons’ overall message but wished that they had focused more intensely on racial issues. “They encouraged us to overcome obstacles and show grace and mercy. However, they didn’t inspire me to try and fix our world. I would’ve liked for the MLK event to be an awakening to the diversity issues happening around us. In all, they were good at encouraging us to overcome obstacles, but they didn’t elaborate on these obstacles nor inspire me enough to take action in helping others.”

Alison O’Neil is a sophomore history and environmental sciences major. She can usually be found typing feverishly on her laptop in a dark corner of Ryan at 3 in the morning. You can contact her at