Ball State University’s Multicultural Center has announced the schedule of events for Unity Week 2023, which kicks off on Jan. 16—this year’s official observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“Unity Week is designed to educate, celebrate, and promote diversity, inclusivity, and solidarity in an evolving social climate,” said Gabrielle Lloyd, interim director of the Multicultural Center. “2023 marks the 45th anniversary of the Unity Week celebration at Ball State University. This year's theme is ‘Be real. Be you. Unlock your full potential.’ We want to offer students, faculty, staff, and the Muncie community members the opportunity to learn from those around them and reflect on how their own lived experiences shape who they are and how they view the world.”  

Events on Jan. 16 include the Dr. MLK Jr. Breakfast, hosted by Ball State and the Collective Coalition of Concerned Clergy. The Breakfast—open to everyone, at no cost—will be held at Ball State’s L.A. Pittenger Student Center, 2000 W. University Ave. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Breakfast is available at 9 a.m.

Speaking at the Breakfast will be Dr. Rashida Willard, associate vice president of Inclusive Excellence at Ball State. The theme of the event is “Continuing the March: Pursuing the Dream.”

Following the Breakfast and keynote address, attendees will participate in the MLK Unity March from the Student Center to the Shafer Bell Tower, scheduled to start promptly at 11:30 a.m. and followed by student performances at University Green.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Evening Celebration, also slated for Jan. 16, begins at 7 p.m. at Union Missionary Baptist Church, 1100 N. Macedonia Ave., in Muncie. Guest speaker for the evening celebration is Dr. Kevin D. Woodgett of The Church Of The Living. There will be special music performances by The MLK Community Choir.

Another highlight of Unity Week 2023 will be featured speaker Chloe Barnes, Lead for Curation Standards (Representation and Inclusion) at Twitter. She will speak at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 at Pruis Hall on Ball State’s main campus in Muncie. There is no cost to attend Ms. Barnes’ speech, which is open to everyone.

Ms. Barnes, a Ball State graduate, has also been an entrepreneur, facilitator, podcaster, and a DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) advocate. At Twitter, Ms. Barnes’ many duties include the development of initiatives that help Twitter improve its global processes, policies, and programs, and help the social media platform include diverse and underrepresented voices in Twitter’s curated content.

As an entrepreneur and a former Division I college basketball player, Ms. Barnes started her first company, Elle Grace Consulting LLC, in 2017. Elle Grace Consulting worked alongside organizations to provide coaching, develop curriculum, and facilitate training designed to help athletes transition into careers in corporate America or into careers as entrepreneurs once their playing days concluded.

The full schedule of Unity Week 2023 events is as follows (highlighted events are open only to those affiliated with Ball State—the university’s students, faculty and staff):

Monday, January 16
• Dr. MLK Jr. Breakfast, Student Center Cardinal Hall, 9 a.m./Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Rashida Willard (Event will be livestreamed at

• MLK Unity March
, Starting from Student Center and ending at the Bell Tower (followed by student performances at University Green), 11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, January 17
• Speaker, Chloe Barnes, Pruis Hall, 7 p.m. (Event will be livestreamed at

Wednesday, January 18
• Disability Services Training, Forum Room, 3 p.m.

• Speaker, Samuel Sirmons (On-Air Radio Personality and Executive Producer; Ball State graduate); Lecture Topic: “Black Media is Media: Preserving the Voice of African American Journalists,” 4 p.m. at the Unified Media Lab in the Art and Journalism Building – 2nd floor

• Queer Monologues, Pruis Hall, 8 p.m.

Thursday, January 19
• Asian Student Union Sushi Night, Multicultural Center’s Multipurpose Room, 5 p.m.

• Ball State University Housing and Residence Life (HRL)’s Habitat for Humanity Service Project, 1-4 p.m.

Friday, January 20
• Latinxpalooza, Student Center, Cardinal Hall, 7 p.m.

• Friday Night Film Works, Stranger at the Gate, Pruis Hall, 9 p.m., as part of Reel Inclusion: A Film SeriesThe film is 30 minutes long and includes images of explosions, and descriptions of violence and hate toward Muslims. Dr. Matthew Hotham, assistant professor of Religious Studies, will facilitate a panel discussion afterwards. The discussion will include Bibi Bahrami and Richard McKinney, both featured in the film, as well as Joshua Seftel, the director.

Saturday, January 21
• Beneficence Leadership Conference, Student Center, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

• Unify the Night, Student Center, 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

Sunday, January 22
• Black Student Association Unity Pageant, Pruis Hall, 7 p.m.

Unity Week, which is coordinated each year by the Multicultural Center with cooperation from campus partners and student organizations, dates back to 1978. Learn more about the history of this event—plus, the history of the Multicultural Center—through the freely-accessible online digital exhibit,
The Ball State University Multicultural Center: Ambassadors of Campus Inclusion and Diversity. This exhibit was curated by the Archives and Special Collections division of Ball State’s University Libraries.

Unity Week 2023 is co-sponsored by Ball State University’s
Asian Student Union; Black Student Association; College of Communication, Information, and Media; Collective Coalition of Concerned Clergy, a community-based organization in Muncie; plus Ball State’s Housing and Residence Life; Latinx Student Union; Office of the President; Office of Student Life; Spectrum; Student Center Programs; and University Libraries.