From January 15 to 18, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Kalamazoo College reflected on the legacy of Dr. King in a Community Reflection, Convocation, and Commemorative Walk.
At each event, K students, faculty, and extended community members gathered to discuss the importance of community by reflecting on Dr. King’s question: what are you doing for others?
On Friday January 15, K community members gathered in Stetson Chapel for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Reflection where eight students and faculty members offered reflections on the theme of community through speeches and music. The last speaker, Daria Lewis K’16, asked the congregation to participate in a moment of silent reflection to ponder Dr. King’s question through an inverted lens—by asking, “What are others doing for me?”
On Monday January 18, Ora Stokes travelled to K to speak at the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in Stetson Chapel, augmented by a musical selection from the Hawthorne Singers. Stokes shared that Dr. King’s speeches and rhetoric were one of her favorite pastimes as a young girl, “What captivated me most about Dr. King was his faith. He had the audacity to think and to dream about things that we wouldn’t dare think about in a room by ourselves.”
But Stokes did not end there. She clarified that her purpose in speaking was not to lure the congregation into a “false sense of security” regarding issues of racial injustice; that although progress has been made since Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, his dream has yet to be reached. Stokes urged everyone to challenge racial injustice instead of allowing the blame to be placed upon others, “It is high time to stop looking out the window and look in the mirror”.
Due to the cold weather, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Walk on January 18 became a Commemorative Bus Ride. But the cold did not deter the Kalamazoo community. Students from K, Western Michigan University, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College gathered in the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Park to hear Mayor Hopewell and other community members honor the Reverend.
When asked what the Commemorative Walk means to him, participant Garrett Sander K’19 replied, “ I think that the momentum of the civil rights movement lies in the young people … we have the power to cause change.”