Relax or have hard conversations at UK’s MLK Center


Students walk past the recently opened Martin Luther King Center in the Gatton Student Center. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Marissa Bosco

A new and improved resource of cultural sharing and interaction awaits UK students to use at their convenience.

The Martin Luther King Center opened its new space on campus on Friday, Oct. 12, in the Gatton Student Center.

The purpose of the center is to offer a space for students and local community members from all different backgrounds to feel comfortable to go to, according to the center’s website. Students can go just to lounge and do homework, or they can go to further expand their cultural awareness and have discussions with others.

UK established the MLK Center in 1987. It began strictly as a place for students to go to where they could feel safe and comfortable with others of different backgrounds. It has now evolved into a space where students, faculty members and community members can congregate in order to learn about each other’s cultures and exchange knowledge of backgrounds to create an equal understanding.

“The MLK Center is and will be the state’s leading laboratory for multiculturalism, social justice activism, diversity education for the student population,” said Jason Brooks, the new director of the MLK Center.

Brooks said the center is simply a safe haven for students and considered it to be the “living room” on campus and added that it was the “heart beat” of campus.

That statement proved to be true for UK student, Charles Lenford Jr., as he explained how he used the center in between classes as a place to relax and do homework.

“The MLK Center has been a place where I can come to and just take a breather in the middle of my day,” Lenford Jr. said. “I’ve already met a few people and we all enjoy what the center has to offer.”

If you walk through the center that is exactly what you will find: groups of students interacting with one another and simply enjoying the little time they have to unwind before they have to hurry back to class.

Brooks expressed how great the turnout has been since the new space recently opened. This is just the beginning for Brooks, though, he said. He’s only been on campus for about four weeks now and already has plans for the future of this center.

“My goal is to make this a place that students, faculty and especially community members can come to and just get information about anything that ranges from diversity to equity,” he said.

Brooks and his staff wish to provide guidance to students of where they can go on campus for specific problems they’ve had in class and simply sharing their knowledge on a variety of topics. Brooks gave the example of teaching students the difference between equity and equality.

Overall, Brooks expressed his dedication to creating an educational space that will advance anyone and everyone to a place they strive get to one day, all while providing comfort and support along the way.