King legacy celebration includes an undercover black Klansman

Campus activities surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday include the man whose extraordinary story of being a black detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s inspired the 2018 film, "BlacKkKlansman."

There are no classes, and university offices are closed on the national holiday, Monday, Jan. 21, but Ames' annual MLK Jr. community birthday celebration takes place that evening. Head to Ames Middle School at 6 p.m. Monday for this tradition, which includes cake and music during the first half hour, followed by an hourlong program.

A black Klansman

Spike Lee's film "BlacKkKlansman" will be screened at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in 101 Carver. Ron Stallworth, the subject of the film, will give the MLK Jr. Legacy convocation the next evening, Jan. 24 (7 p.m., Memorial Union Sun Room).

Stallworth was the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs police department, overcoming fierce racist hostility to achieve a distinguished career in law enforcement. In 1978, he responded to a KKK recruitment ad using his real name while posing as a white man. With the help of a fellow detective who stood in as the "white" Stallworth, he was able to sabotage cross burnings and expose members of the white supremacist group.

During his talk, Stallworth will discuss his months-long investigation and subsequent memoir, "Black Klansman," which he wrote to share his experiences of a divided United States.

The university's Advancing One Community Awards will be awarded prior to Stallworth's lecture.

Civil rights activist

A final event in the MLK Jr. Legacy series, the keynote by Brittany Packnett, will be held Monday, Jan. 28 (7 p.m., MU Great Hall). Packnett is vice president of national community alliances for Teach for America, where she leads partnerships and civil rights work with communities of color. Her talk is titled "The Power of Knowing Your Purpose."

Packnett is a former teacher, nonprofit executive director and fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics. She was among Time Magazine's "12 New Faces of Black Leadership" in 2015 and honored at the 2018 BET Awards as "one of the fiercest activists of our time."

Packnett co-founded Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence. She served as an appointed member of the 2014-15 Ferguson (Missouri) Commission and on former President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration included a carillon concert Jan. 16 by ISU carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam.