Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated at Guilford

by Bryan Dooley, Senior Writer
Photos by Brianna Glenn

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“The function of education…is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society.”

From Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, Guilford commemorated the life and work of King with a series of events focused on how far society has come and how far society still has to progress to reach King’s dream.

“This year I really wanted someone to come that was alum, and because we are celebrating Journeys in Blackness (a yearlong celebration of integration at Guilford 50 years ago), it really connected to the entire theme of the department this year,” said Jada Drew, Africana Community Program coordinator in the Multicultural Education Department. “When I was a student, I was asked to be a part of this event (Collective Voices Igniting Change) here at Guilford. The last couple of years, we did not havestudent speakers, and I really wanted to bring that back.”

The first of four events, Collective Voices Igniting Change, featured musical performances, student speakers, an alum speaker, and even a dance-off. One of the student speakers, Jodie-Ann Geddes, shared her thoughts on King’s life.

“I think that Dr. King showed people that justice should have no boundaries. His travel to numerous countries was an example of how much the struggle to create equal spaces was far beyond the US,” Geddes said.

Roderick Walker, another student speaker, has a different interpretation of King’s significance.

“His work will never be done; King’s legacy is just a large step in the direction we want to go,” Walker said. “Today, Americans have become more out-spoken and have developed more multicultural relationships in communities, which show progress in our acceptance of other races. We were created all in God’s image, yes, we are unique in personality, but we are equal in spirit.”

Pastor Santes Beatty ’97, of Kentwood, Mich., delivered the keynote address. Beatty is a former Guilford football player and the director of African-American Affairs at Guilford. Using examples taken from Dr. King’s life, and drawing from his own experiences, Beatty challenged the audience to get out of their comfort zone and confront the social issues still evident.

The second event featured C.P. Gause, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at University of North Carolina Greensboro. His lecture, “The Journey to Loving Black Men, Hip Hop, and Transgressive Masculinities: How I Got Over” focused on the wide variety of issues African-American men face, especially identity as related to sexuality and masculinity.

The third event was a small group conversation responding to one of King’s later speeches, “Beyond Vietnam, A Time to Break the Silence” led by Jorge Zeballos, Latino Community Program coordinator in the Multicultural Education Department, and Nick Cream, an intern in the Multicultural Education Department. Participants brought up many topics, including militarism, capitalism, and racism.

The group reached a consensus that King’s Vietnam speech demonstrated his unification of several types of oppression and peoples.

“King held together coalitions of activists who were committed to non-violent social change at a time when tensions were high and there were major pressures to retaliate against the violence being rained down on people who simply wanted the right to exercise their rights as citizens of our country and as human beings,” said Adrienne Israel, professor of History and Academic Dean.

The final event was a viewing of “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” a biographical film. Bayard Rustin, a Quaker, was the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Israel explains the importance of colleges honoring King’s legacy.

“I wish panels could discuss the meaning of his life’s work, and we could continue having speakers and discussions year round,” Israel said, “Why? Because educational institutions are key to our political culture and what goes on here has an impact on the wider community.”


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