This year’s UVU Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration theme is: Strength to Love: Engaging Our Full Humanity to Address Systemic Inequities. This theme begins with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, Strength to Love, the title used for a collection of social justice sermons he gave. It continues by reminding us that being strong enough to love in action includes seeing the humanity in each other regardless of differences, and being willing to dismantle and recreate systems of inequality and inequity in order to build a new world that does not discriminate or cause suffering.


For the 2022 Commemoration’s exhibit, student leaders from the Black Student Union and Multicultural Student Council teamed up to convey the beauty of visual solidarity and multiculturalism that acknowledges the humanity in all peoples.


The original song included below was written and performed by Brenda Famina, Peter Kikudji, and Camille Preston and produced by Ke’ala Santo. The four original poems were written and performed by Liliane Kwizera. Both the song and poems express the importance of collective unity while maintaining the importance of diversity. Keep scrolling to read thoughts from Black UVU students in regards to developing the strength to love, as well as the significance of inclusion and related topics. Finally, enjoy a photoshoot shot by Clayton Mueller, highlighting the cultural pride of a diverse set of UVU students who celebrate both their unique ethnic heritages and their ability to stand together as a diverse collective committed to positive social change. A huge thanks to Mohamed Eftin and Dinah Kibwe, in collaboration with the UVU Black Student Union and the Center for Social Impact, for their vision, leadership, and facilitation of this project.

Strength to Love: an MLK Jr. Tribute Song

Read the Lyrics

MLK Jr. Commemoration Poems

Read the Poems


What does the strength to love mean to you?

Woman with facepaint and toga

“I think strength to love has to do also with the courage to embrace truth! Truth in the sense of historical facts such as all humanity comes from Africa, civilization began in Africa, Europe developed at the expense of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Man holding skull

"The the U.S. exists through the exploitation of Africans and removal of Native American peoples. These are facts that many people want to deny or “move on from.” Strength to love means having the courage to face history and look it straight in the eye — without avoidance, without guilt, without shame, without fear. It must be looked at squarely not only because of the need for justice but because of the need for balance.”

Man wearing white robe

“Strength to love means having the courage to shed ideas which keep us in systems and cycles of harm. It is work for all of us to do not just those considered to be oppressed! We must love ourselves and our histories and plant seeds for a future rooted in truth.”

Woman in furry top

“Strength to love is a reminder that love is not weak or weakness. Love is power. Forgiveness is power. The flip side is that since love is strength many times we are taught to fear Blackness and repress ourselves to make other people comfortable. So while it takes strength to love ones enemy it also takes strength, potentially even more strength, in a society that encourages you not to love Blackness, for us to love ourselves.”

Woman in white dress with decorative hairband


What does multiculturalism mean to you? What about solidarity?


"Multiculturalism means being in community with people from various marginalized backgrounds. Learning from each other in ways that enhance our self-knowledge and strengthen our respect for others!"

Woman wearing a argentina jersey

"The merging and acceptance of different cultures."

Woman holding a skull

"Togetherness. Unity! Finding the core principles of humanity which are applicable to any culture, tradition, and community of being. Ally-ship is to truly understand the interdependent nature (Ubuntu) of life."

Man holding a culturally significant stick.

"I think of unity."

Woman with dots of facepaint

"It is a great expression of improvement in the overall community. If we all keep our cultures to ourselves then as a community we won’t move forward. Throughout the years you can see that everyone has benefited from advances of different cultures."

How do you show solidarity with groups that are important to you?


Woman with facepaint on her eyebrows and chin

“By showing respect to what they believe in, supporting them where I can, and advocating for them.”

Man wearing stripes shirt with hands behind his back

“I express solidarity by listening and also by honoring. One of the best ways is by spreading awareness. A good example from an African American perspective is honoring the Native Americans. Not only their past but their present realities. Many people don’t realize that Natives are Still Here. Spreading awareness about that through acknowledgements and story telling is powerful and it also provides clarity to the African American struggle because we are a stolen people fighting for rights on a stolen land. This reality has the power to lead us toward more pan-African goals and African centered tradition and thought!”

Woman wearing a white dress

“I would express it as a great sense of urgency in order for groups to gain mutual benefits and improve each others life.”

Why is it important for you to represent your culture while respecting others?



“Because there is beauty in differences.”

Woman wearing a leather jacket

“Every culture is beautiful.”

Woman with red eyeliner around her eyes

“Because representing my culture doesn’t mean I have to accept everything about it. It doesn’t mean I have to continue promoting the bad from the culture, so whatever puts other cultures down should be something to be disregarded.”

Woman with a nosering

“Because it is a part of who I am. If I was not allowed to represent my culture then in a way that means I am not allowed to be myself, my actions would have to be altered.”

Woman wearing a purple shirt

“Because my culture contributes to the greater collective in significant ways. We can unify in solidarity while also celebrating our differences.”

Three people standing together
Man with culturally significant stick with women on either side of him
Three women standing together
Man and woman standing on either side of woman with facepaint



A big group standing together


Share a reflection


Want to share your commitment to action
in developing solidarity and the strength
to love or express how this exhibit made
you feel? Need someone to talk to about
your experience as a Black
person or person of color? Please submit
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