MLK Day event serves as call to action
Celebrating the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day under the theme “Moving from Spirit to Action,” members of the Carthage community pledged to carry on the late civil rights leader’s mission to eradicate all forms of injustice.
In place of regularly scheduled classes, the College held an afternoon program Jan. 18 for students, faculty, and staff to reflect on ways they can advance beyond words and emulate the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The program opened with a community gathering featuring passionate statements and musical performances that served as a call to action for Carthaginians.
Speakers included special guest Jackie Joyner-Kersee, winner of six Olympic medals in track and field in the 1980s and ’90s. She remains active as a speaker, philanthropist, and advocate for children’s education, racial equality, social reform, and women’s rights.
“Start this year with a pledge to service and find new meaning by connecting to others through giving back,” Ms. Joyner-Kersee urged viewers of the virtual program.
Other speakers represented the faculty and Carthage’s multicultural student organizations.
“The best way to celebrate our differences is to learn,” said Liza Iqbal ’22 of the Muslim Society/Awareness Association.
President John Swallow drew from a 1967 speech Rev. King gave in Kenosha to decry discriminatory housing policies. The president noted that systemic inequities still linger in American society more than a half-century later, from health care to policing, and emphasized higher education’s role in correcting that imbalance.
Carthage’s campus pastor, the Rev. Kara Baylor, introduced the Red Bracelet Project. Anyone in the campus community is encouraged to pick up and wear one of the bracelets, which signify the College’s unifying anti-racism commitment.
She explained the inspiration for the project: the “crimson thread of divine justice” that author Allen Dwight Callahan described in “The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible.” The free bracelets are available at the Center for Faith and Spirituality or the Division of Student Affairs.
The event then provided time for first-year students to meet with their equity coaches as part of the new ARISE (Anti-Racism and Intercultural Experience Seminar) program. Others from the campus community split into small groups on Zoom where more than 40 faculty and staff members facilitated frank discussions about race.
As part of the Red Bracelet Project, many more events are planned throughout the semester. Students can earn “I Belong Here” T-shirt by attending at least three designated events.