The Martin Luther King Center was established in 1987 with the original intent to affirm and nurture the culture of African-American students as they navigated the University of Kentucky, according to Chester Grundy, a former director of the center. Programming served as a triple purpose by connecting the African diaspora to its roots, educating the student body through new interactions and new experiences, and increasing recruitment and retention rates for African-American students.
Ricardo Nazario y Colón transferred to UK in 1988 to complete his undergraduate studies in Spanish and Latin American Studies. In his interview with the exhibit curator he offered a unique perspective to the University of Kentucky as a Puerto Rican non-traditional student raised in New York. During his time as a student, he was elected as the president of Black Student Union and is also a brother of Phi Beta Sigma, a historically-black fraternity that is still active on the University of Kentucky’s campus. Ricardo Nazario y Colón was later named director of the UK Martin Luther King Center from 2004-2005, after serving as interim and assistant director from 2002-2004. As the first Latino director at the MLK Center, Ricardo advocated for the emerging Latino student population and as a result, more Latino students found comfort in the center.
As stated on the center’s website, “The Martin Luther King Center seeks to empower University of Kentucky students from ALL communities to improve their college experience by increasing access to academic, civic leadership, and cultural exchange opportunities” (uky.edu/mlkc). The MLK Center has played a vital role in supporting Latino students at the University by providing resources, cultural awareness, and acting as a catalyst for diversity and inclusion. Brief conversations between Latino students at the center have evolved into registered student organizations, such as in the case of Latino-American Student Organization and Latino Student Union.
University of Kentucky. (2006). 2006 Kentuckian. 112. Lexington, KY.
Latino students, University of Kentucky, Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Martin Luther King Center