MLK Day program emphasizes united front
Centering on the theme “Hope and Togetherness,” Carthage commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a call for unity in action against injustice.
Morning and afternoon in-class activities bookended the Jan. 17 schedule, which also featured a live-streamed community gathering with oral presentations and musical performances.
Professors from various academic departments devoted that day’s class period to the civil rights leader’s teachings. To shine a light on racism’s far-reaching effects, they screened documentaries and led discussions on topics from Black magicians to environmental quality.
The virtual gathering culminated Carthage’s yearlong celebration of 75 Years of Black Excellence. That 2021-22 event series honored the impact of the College’s Black students and alumni since Lorraine Wiggan ’46 became its first African American graduate.
Although 54 years have passed since the assassination of Rev. King, speakers drew parallels from his speeches and writings to the landscape in 2022. They urged fellow Carthaginians to push ahead in the struggle for equality on several fronts.
Julius Crump, an assistant professor of religion, reflected on a question Rev. King posed in his last book: “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” Viewing it through a contemporary lens, the faculty speaker turned the question on its side.
“It’s not so much where you’re going, but who you’re going with,” said Prof. Crump, advising the community to “cultivate a ‘we’ that goes about the business of doing something important.”
Representing several diversity, equity, and inclusion organizations, students emphasized the need for an active response to prejudice — even when the target is someone else.
“Just because you have [peace] doesn’t mean you can take a seat in helping them gain theirs,” said Miles Chubin ’24 of the Jewish Awareness Association at Carthage.
Alumni speakers included John Danley ’80, senior director for space enterprise planning and operations at Lockheed Martin.
“At Carthage, they gave me the opportunity to hope and dream,” he said, reciting a 1963 quote from Rev. King to guide students: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
President John Swallow highlighted the work Carthage has undertaken to neutralize educational disparities based on a student’s race, income level, gender, or other factors. As a partner in the Moon Shot for Equity initiative, the College aims to eliminate gaps in graduation rates by 2030.
He asked the community to seek out other perspectives — “not just as stories in a book, but as the lived experiences of people on this campus.”
At the event, the College also recognized recipients of the Black Student Union Scholarship and the new 75 Years of Black Excellence Scholarship, which will be awarded each year to a rising senior for outstanding achievements and contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus.