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The Northwestern University community has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King since 1987 with an expanded special commemoration, including stage events, discussions, lectures, films, music, theater and service projects throughout the week to inspire reflection on Dr. King’s life and legacy, including the continuation of the Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil. In January 2013, Northwestern designated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official University-recognized annual holiday for students, faculty and staff.

Northwestern's program is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Events are planned by the MLK Commemoration planning committee.

The planning committee is comprised of individuals from various University units and student representatives across Northwestern.