A few years ago, the College began celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, so the College is closed, and classes don’t begin until tomorrow!
MLK Day is always an important one for our program given our commitment to studying and understanding the powerful and nonviolent pursuit of more just and collaborative relations, as well as the structures of power and inequality that inhibit lives well-lived.
As Dr. King’s Day reminds us, the work can be both dramatic and slow, with the work bearing fruit for decades and more. I just returned recently from visiting family in Nashville , Tennessee and read this morning in the New York Times that a statue of the Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest on Interstate 65 near my home has finally come down. I also learned that the plaza in front of Nashville’s courthouse has been named after Diane Nash, and the city’s newest high school will be named after Dr. James Lawson, both instrumental in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins and other campaigns during the civil rights movement.
Moreover, inequality and militarism remain dominant in American society. On this MLK Day I would like to re-share the video reading of Dr. King’s Riverside Speech that students, faculty, and staff organized earlier this year. In this powerful speech King warns us about the intersecting dangers of racism, militarism, and materialism.
Let me also remind us of this week’s event on January 21, 2022 titled “Polarization as Possibility: The Justice Strategizing of Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr.” featuring our own George Lakey and Professor Terrance Wiley of Religion and Africana Studies at Haverford College. I hope to see some of you there.
Lee Smithey, Coordinator, Peace and Conflict Studies Program