January 12, 2021 |
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities across the country are still finding ways to help Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 18 through virtual webinars, symposiums and lectures.
However, many Americans enter the memorial holiday with heavy hearts after last week's events at the Capitol.
While pro-Trump supporters raided and defaced the Capitol, many displayed Confederate flags and anti-Semitic T-shirts. Members of the House and Senate, as well as other employees, were forced to evacuate and seek shelter.
Frank Wu, president of Queens College said that "he is not alone in immediately noticing that peaceful Black Lives Matter protests were met with a display of mass violence while this uprising was answered anything but that."
“While we mourn what has been done, we can find comfort in Dr. King's example,” he added. From Birmingham to Selma to Montgomery to Washington, D.C., he had to deal with segregationists willing to outdo him and anyone who would nurture ideals we now say we all share. More than anything else, its resilience in the face of raw racism earns our respect through our following. "
Schools like Queens College are now linking events at the Capitol to their annual MLK commemorations.
"Dr. King & # 39; s legacy of peaceful protest brought about racial justice, and we have seen the opposite violent attacks on the seat of democracy promoting racial injustice," said Wu. Contrast, but we want people to have hope in these dark times. "
Celebrations used to take place at Colden Auditorium, where King once spoke on a visit to campus in 1965.
This year, however, the event will transition into a virtual setting with students quoting phrases from that speech, a panel discussion highlighting King & # 39; s legacy, and a video presentation focusing on Queen College's role of activism.
“This is going to be positive, but provocative, and I don't want to shy away from how difficult all this is,” Wu said. "Dr. King was a radical in his day. … We forget that there were people who opposed him, who opposed him violently, who were against him and wanted massive resistance."
Due to his commitment to activism, Wu wanted to be personally involved in the memorial.
“College presidents participate in many ceremonies and sometimes our role is purely ceremonial,” Wu added. & # 39; We get up and wave. We read a speech that someone else wrote for us. This is different. "
At Seton Hall University, members of the campus community can participate in a one-credit workshop, “AFAM 3291: MLK Day Symposium”, free of charge.
The day's event will feature discussions of King's contributions, institutional racism, micro-aggression, hate rhetoric, anti-racist behavior, and privilege. Those discussions are heightened by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others.
“The only way we can have a fair and truly free and open America in the future is by working on it today,” said Pastor Dr. Forrest M. Pritchett, Senior Advisor to the Provost for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and Program Director of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Seton Hall.
Undergraduate students who register and participate must complete two additional essays as part of the course.
Pritchett emphasized that in many cases the educational process is 'passive' could be.
"It's (it's about a) professor who teaches students who take notes, respond to tests, and then we move on," he said. “Hopefully the atmosphere we create will be about creating an open, honest and candid discussion about the role of race, the role of bigotry and the role of hatred in American society. Not only in the current sense, but also in the historical sense. "
The online nature of the event allows Seton Hall to reach a wider audience and it was advertised outside of the campus community, with the aim of reaching prospective students and their families.
"This is timely and hopefully many more people can now sit together and have discussions in their homes all day," said Pritchett.
St. Mary's College of Maryland will also build on the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Celebration in Southern Maryland. Author Crystal Marie Fleming and Dr. Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary's College, will comment on education, justice, and service.
“There are so many different topics that we can talk and celebrate together in our short time,” said Dr. Shana Meyer, interim vice president for student affairs at St. Mary's College. "I hope it spurs the participants into action and I hope we can also provide some inspiring and thoughtful moments."
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Nu Zeta Omega Chapter will also serve one day. There will be opportunities to donate clothing, blankets, and non-perishable foods in areas around St. Mary's College.
At Northeast Community College, faculty and staff hear from Ike Rayford, president of the Sioux City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Rayford will speak on diversity and inclusion as part of professional development training sessions taking place the week of January 18.
In addition, Northeast, in partnership with the Mayor & # 39; s Diversity Council in the City of Norfolk, plans to host a virtual event with Preston Love, Jr., founder and director of the Institute for Urban Development in Omaha, as keynote speaker.
“As we process last week's events, this will be an opportunity for us to come together, engage and hear the speaker,” said Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services at Northeast CC. "And hopefully this is just the beginning of the conversation on our campus about diversity and inclusion."
His presentation, "Where's MLK?" will focus on his own experiences with activism and be part of Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's presidential run in 1984.
Native to the state of Nebraska, Love was also an alumnus of Northeast, known at the time as Norfolk Junior College.
"He knows where we are, as a state he can also talk about where we are in our country," said Nipp. “I think each state is probably in a slightly different place with diversity and inclusion. It just gives us that chance and starts that conversation we can't stop on MLK Day. It must continue. "
Sarah Wood can be reached at [email protected]