Members of the Lehigh community gathered in Baker Hall on Monday to celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The program, “Reflections,” was the opening ceremony for Lehigh’s annual week of events dedicated to the life of King, the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Students, faculty and staff members shared personal experiences and discussed how King has influenced their lives.
“Throughout my four years at Lehigh, I have seen the community become more diverse through multiple programs, sharing of cultures, and the hard work of people who want to try something new,” said Chris Holguin ’13.
“I have become a more diverse person myself, because I have allowed myself to learn about multiple opinions and cultural histories by exposing myself to new experiences.”
In addition to the reflections, video segments of King’s speeches were played throughout the event. A student-produced video, “He Fought for Us: What Do You Fight For?,” challenged the audience to effect positive change in the Lehigh community.
After welcoming remarks by Henry Odi, vice provost for academic diversity, Lehigh President Alice P. Gast spoke about King’s lasting impact.
“King knew that we needed to think not only of ourselves, but of others. He said that we are all linked in the great chain of humanity,” said Gast.
A “relationship of respect”
Donald E. Hall, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke about his experiences growing up in Alabama and how King’s writing has influenced him as a scholar and activist.
“In his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’” said Hall, “King immediately sets out his desire to acknowledge where the other person is coming from and to establish a relationship of empathy and respect. That is something we do not see today in political discourse, we don’t see it in the media, and [yet] it still has tremendous importance with us today.
“His recognition that what affects me in one oppressed realm also has the ability to affect you, [and] that we are all in this together, is something sorely lacking today.”
The annual King celebration continued Tuesday with a Day of Education, during which the Martin Luther King Organizing Committee will highlight faculty involvement in social justice efforts as both citizens and scholars.
The schedule for the remainder of the week includes Wednesday’s interfaith breakfast; Thursday’s MLK convocation and award ceremony featuring a keynote address by NPR’s Michele Norris; and a bus trip on Friday to Washington, D.C., during which members of the Lehigh community will experience the history of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The cost of Friday’s bus trip is $10. Places can be reserved by visiting the Multicultural Center (University Center 208) or by clicking here.