PITTSBURG — To celebrate civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to kick-off Black History Month, Pittsburg State University’s Office of Student Diversity and the Black Student Association will host its annual MLK Jr. Ball. 

The MLK Jr. Ball will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, in the Overman Student Center Crimson and Gold Ballroom. Dress will be formal. Admission is free. The event will include light refreshments, a DJ and dance, a photo booth, speeches and performances. 

The students also have planned several activities throughout February in recognition of Black History month. 

“It comes down to exposure, exposure of the different things our students enjoy,” Emely Flores, assistant director of the Office of Student Diversity said. “They get to celebrate their heritage, their ancestry and how it is they got to be here today. So, they are celebrating their history, their heritage, their culture.”

The Office of Student Diversity also celebrates diversity through a variety of programs throughout the year, including Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Women’s History Month.  

“These are just the groups that are of minority or have faced oppression, so for us, exposure is really important because that’s what is going to take us to a level of understanding and empathy,

not just on campus and in the community but nationwide,” Flores said. “It’s helping others see the beauty that it is to be diverse.”

Other upcoming events include: 

Monday, Feb. 3 

Students, staff, and faculty are invited to wear all black all day for “Black Out.” 

Wednesday, Feb. 5 

Motivational speaker Monti Washington will present from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Overman Student Center, Ballroom C. Washington will speak about overcoming the struggles of his childhood and going on to earn two college degrees, become a state basketball champion, award-winning poet, nationally recognized actor, and co-founder of a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring youth, a PSU release said. His presentation is co-hosted by the Gorilla Activities Board.  

Tuesday, Feb. 11 

The 5th Annual Gospel Explosion will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall. The event will feature Bishop Walter Simpson of Lighthouse Temple, musician and PSU music alumna Arlecia Elkamil, and Pastor Adrian Goodlow of the Church of the Living Word.  

Thursday, Feb. 13 

Black History Month Trivia Night will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Room 107 of Grubbs Hall. Flores said it will be a fun night full of entertaining and educational facts about Black History in America, and is open to the campus and community. 

Tuesday, Feb. 25 

"Race Project KC: Using Local History to Activate Empathy and Combat Racism," will be held as a brown bag lunch session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Meadowlark Room of the Overman Student Center. The featured guest will be Angel Jewel Tucker, youth services manager at Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas. She will lead a discussion on Kansas City and “the root of the existential racism in real estate practice.”