Fairfield University will hold a series of events for its annual commemoration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

The program's 2013 MLK Jr. Convocation will feature Diane Nash, a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, in a talk with university students moderated by Yohuru Williams, associate professor of African-American history. The event's theme, "The time is always right to do what is right," is based on a quote by King taken from a commencement address he gave at Oberlin College in 1965.

It will take place at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in the university's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, 1073 N. Benson Road. Admission is free and open to the public.

Nash's involvement in the Civil Rights movement began in 1959, while she was a student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., according to a release. In 1960, she became the chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters, as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.

In 1961, she coordinated the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Ala., to Jackson, Miss., a story that was documented in the recent PBS American Experience film "Freedom Riders." Her many arrests for her civil rights activities culminated in Nash being imprisoned for 30 days in 1961, while she was pregnant with her first child, the release states.

Undeterred, she went on to join a national committee, to which she was appointed by President John F. Kennedy, that promoted passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She later became active in the peace movement that worked to end the Vietnam War and became an instructor in the philosophy and strategy of non-violence as developed by Mohandas Gandhi.

This year's Martin Luther King Jr. Vision Awards, given to individuals who exemplify the King's virtues, are being presented to Sharon Pedrosa, a senior, Wylie Blake, campus minister for service, and David Brown, a faculty member in applied ethics.

Other King-related university events, also free and open to the public, include:

Poetry for Peace: The fifth annual Poetry for Peace Contest winners' celebration will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in the school's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The competition encouraged Bridgeport and Fairfield school children from kindergarten through eighth grade to express their own concepts of peace through writing.

Memorial March: In the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the walk, to start at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, will guide participants around campus to locations where acts of hatred or demonstrations for justice have taken place from the 1960s to present day. At each venue, a reflection on the event will be given along with a song, poem or prayer. The march will end at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library where an exhibition, "The Body of Belief," featuring religious clothing banned throughout the world, will be on display. A reception will follow.

For information, contact Fred J. Kuo, director of student involvement at fkuo@fairfield.edu or 203-254-4000 ext. 3733; or Ellen Umansky, professor of religious studies, at eumansky@fairfield.edu or 203-254-4000 ext. 2065.