MLK Image Round

Social Justice Resources

The social justice scavenger hunt includes informational stations around campus on various topics.
Additional resources related to those topics are available below.

“Not a day off, but a day on…”

Wartburg College treats MLK Day differently than most college campuses around the U.S. Rather than providing a day off, classes are shortened in the morning and afternoon educational and service programming is available for faculty, staff, and students to participate. This tradition was started in 1998 when a group of concerned Wartburg students presented a proposal to the college president and cabinet members. Here is an excerpt from the proposal:

Wartburg College is a respected institution. The problems within our community are minor compared to the level of misunderstandings and lack of responsibility within the entirety of society. By focusing on issues similar to those for which King fought, the students will contemplate their importance to their lives and application to their fields of study. Students will also witness the impact one person can have within a society. The day will frustrate, inspire, and educate, but most importantly, it will compel students to investigate an issue they cannot afford to ignore.

Original MLK Day student proposal from 1998

Let’s continue the tradition and make Wartburg College a better place for everyone!

MLK Day - students discussing in group
MLK Day Service - students working with group with disabilities

Black Theology

Black Theology emerged out of generations of struggle for black liberation from white supremacy in the United States. A pivotal moment was in July 1966 when 51 black pastors took out a full page ad in the New York Times proclaiming Christian support for Black Power. 

James Cone quickly emerged as “the father of black liberation theology,” seeking, as he described it, an integration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s emphasis on Christian love and Malcolm X’s demands for justice in a white supremacist culture.


Womanist Theology is a movement emerging out of the poetic term coined by Alice Walker in 1982:

Delores S. Williams innovated the application of womanism to biblical interpretation and Christian theology and ethics. Her analysis of “the Abraham cycle” (Genesis 12-25) focused on Hagar and her experiences as a black woman who was both enslaved to a white woman and subjugated to a man. This connects to black women’s tri-dimensional experiences of racism in white feminism, sexism in black theology, and class-oppression based on their intersectional experiences of oppression.

Howard University School of Law: What is Womanism?

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter is not only a movement seeking radical political reform, but a spiritual movement seeking to heal and empower while inspiring other religious allies seeking inclusivity.”

Far From Being Anti-Religious, Faith and Spirituality Run Deep in Black Lives Matter

Images of Black Madonna and Black Christ

Images of the Black Christ and the Black Madonna are revered around the world. They point to the historical fact that Jesus was not white and looked nothing like images of him in most Eurocentric churches. They also suggest a theology of Mary who identifies with marginalized women around the globe. Their embrace, as well as the resistance to them, suggest that it matters very much how the divine is imaged in Christian communities.

Our Black Mother Podcast with Christena Cleveland

Black Jesus Depiction

Embrace promotes education of historically marginalized communities, promoting truth, discomfort and celebration

Pledge: Embrace Thy Neighbor
I pledge to embrace and respect the diversity of all individuals
I pledge to nurture a deeper awareness and understanding of the diversity around me
I pledge to engage with and contribute to the diversity in my community
I pledge to honor this declaration in my daily life

Embrace the Race
Reading Challenge
Little Free Library
Book Clubs
Educational Workshops
Community partnerships: CUNA, Healthy Cedar Valley, WSR Schools
Pre-School Book Giveaway
Diversity Festival
21-Day Challenge

EMBRACE Team Members:
La Toshia Burrell
Jean Schenkewitz
Libby Fry
Josie Beckstrom
Jennifer Onuigbo
Janet Irankunda
Jacqueline Jeffcoat Schedtler
Stephanie Miller
Marquis Stephens
Allison Banwart-Hales
Jenn Wolff

To learn more about EMBRACE, email

John Lewis grew up in an era of racial segregation. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., he joined the burgeoning civil rights movement. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963’s March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” He was elected to Congress in 1986 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. 


The journey toward social justice can be lonely and dangerous.  Equity will not just happen. We must be willing to get into the arena, and there will always be critique and dismissal. The Civil Rights movement is not just a historic movement. It continues today in the work of today’s Black activists and leaders who continue to put their reputations, bodies, and lives on the line for freedom. Join them by heeding John Lewis’ words, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Check out the 2nd Floor display at Vogel Library to learn a bit more about folks who have caused good trouble through the years. You can also view complementary digital resources at

John Lewis
John Lewis tweet about good trouble

What is it? “A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories” (American College Personnel Association, 2019). 

Why do it? Every geographic area in the U.S. holds a history of displacement, massacre, or other trauma inflicted on the Indigenous people who originally inhabited the land. Every area also holds the history of the Indigenous people who were careful stewards of the land and the living things upon it before being displaced. Educational institutions must recognize their part in the erasure of Indigenous people and culture from the classroom and the erasure from each institution’s narrative of its own history. A land acknowledgement explicitly incorporates Indigenous people back into the college’s story and should indicate a commitment to the same decolonization in the classroom. 

Who does it? Land acknowledgements are common practice in Canada and Australia, especially for colleges and universities, but these same institution types in the U.S. have been slow to follow, although more are doing so in the last couple years. 

How to do it? Take the time to research the history of the Indigenous people in your geographic area. Once ready, post the statement online and recite the acknowledgement out loud at the beginning of public events.

Land acknowledgment information hub:

US Dept of Arts and Culture land acknowledgement site:

Insight into Diversity article:

“Decolonization is not a metaphor,” article by Tuck and Yang:

Example acknowledgements from three other small private colleges:

Did you know Wartburg College Spiritual Life & Campus Ministry is a Reconciling in Christ Community? This means we:

  • ensure the welcome, inclusion, celebration, and advocacy for people of allsexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions
  • work for racial equity and commit to anti-racist work 
  • are open to calling LGBTQIA+ and BIPOCRostered Leaders
  • allow the chapel to be used for LGBTQIA+ weddings, baptisms, and blessings

SLCM Statement of Welcome 

Because gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families are often scorned by society and alienated from the Church, we wish to make known our caring nature and concern. It is for this purpose that we affirm the following: As a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in keeping with Wartburg College’s values of diversity and inclusion, the college openly welcomes and affirms people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and understands them to be an important part of the campus community. 

Support Black-owned Businesses in the State of Iowa!

Did you know Waterloo, just 20 miles south of Waverly, is known as the “Black Capitol of Iowa?” When you shop local businesses, your purchasing power strengthens the economy. Get the Black Capitol on your phone and check out what Black-owned businesses you can support – AND win prizes for each place you check-in.

Black Capitol of Iowa Website
Waterloo Black-owned Business Directory
Other Black-owned Businesses in Iowa Directories

Watch the video interviews of a few amazing leaders in the Waterloo community below.  See places to visit and what it’s like to lead the Black Capitol of Iowa.

Black Lives Matter

According to the BLM website, in 2013 three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

  • BLM promotes the idea that all people should be treated  fairly in the eyes of the law and every institution (the idea that the black community has fought for the past 400 years). 
  • BLM wants Black people to be able to leave their homes without the fear of losing their lives. 
  • BLM wants justice for all Black people who were murdered as a result of racial injustice; whether it be law enforcement or citizen (hate crime)
  • BLM’s mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” – founders
  • Black people just want to be treated equally and fairly in any setting; religious, academic, governmental, and economic. 
  • BLM movement isn’t asking for anything, asking to stop doing certain things.
  • (Example: “Not asking you to give me my rights. Asking you to stop preventing me from exercising my rights.” – Professor Finne Coleman, University of New Mexico)
  • Black community has always had a strained relationship with law enforcement. The roots of law enforcement were planted deep in the south, where slave patrol grew into America’s modern law enforcement. 
  • Defund the police = cut unnecessary funding and cut it back into minority communities. 


Educate and Help:

  • Discuss what’s going on to people you know and trust.
  • Listen to your Black friends and family.
  • Learn more about systemic racism, antiracism, institutional discrimination and racism, white privilege, and police brutality against black people in America through podcast, books, documentaries and people you know (if they want to tell you about it).
  • Avoid sharing traumatic content.
  • Check on your Black friends, classmates, coworkers, and loved ones.
  • Keep supporting after the outrage.
  • Stop supporting organizations that promote hate.
  • Host or attend “Know Your Rights” training.
  • Spread links to petitions and fundraising online.
  • Attend city or town hall meetings.
  • Volunteer and share your resources.


Other Resources:

Black Lives Matter Logo
BLM Photo

Ways to learn on your own time:

  • 13th – Ava DuVernay (2016)
  • Black Panthers – Stanley Nelson (2015)
  • The Black Power Mixtape – Goöran Olsson (2011)
  • The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson 


  • Between the World and Me – Ta – Nehisi Coates 
  • White Fragility – Robin Diangelo 
  • Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde 
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin 
  • How to be an Anti-racist – Ibrahim X. Kendi 
  • New Jim Crow in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander 
  • The Color of Law – Richard Rothstein