Colorado College Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2016

Colorado College celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. day with a series of engaging events for students, staff, and community members.

“As an institution dedicated to the power of ideas, it’s essential to honor this American luminary,” said President Jill Tiefenthaler in her speech at Monday morning’s All People’s Breakfast. Over 400 people of all ages, races, and backgrounds attended the breakfast, held in Reid Arena at the El Pomar Sports Center.

A program of 18 speakers and performers, including CC students, were selected to address the crowd about current issues surrounding empowerment and activism.

“We must recognize that Doctor King did not only leave us a history but a platform,” said sophomore Brittany Camacho in her address at the breakfast. “And now, more than ever, we must call upon our humanity as a shared experience.”

The next event of the day was the First Mondays Speech by Reverend Doctor Jamie Washington, co-founder of the Social Justice Institute of Baltimore, Maryland. Doctor Washington began his speech in an unexpected way by asking the audience of Mohrman Theatre to talk to a stranger about the meaning of MLK Day. He then delivered a speech that focused on the different roles of love and anger in liberty activism.

“My anger is about the radical love I have for others and for humanity,” said Rev. Doc. Washington. “A wishbone will never suffice where a backbone is required.”

In the afternoon, students, faculty, and staff were invited to a campus community dialogue titled “Unmasking CC’s Racial Climate: Seeking Doctor King’s Beloved Community,” in Bemis Great Hall. Planned by the Butler Center, the event was attended by over 100 people.

The dialogue provided an opportunity for campus community members to discuss their understanding of campus climate, consider how individuals may influence it, and make commitments to improve it.

Students and staff members responded to how Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community” could fit into Colorado College by talking about diversity, the combination of anger and love, the relationship between the well being of the group and the individual, and privilege.

The dialogue included discussions in large groups and small groups, as well as time for individual reflection and goal setting.

“I witnessed participants taking risks to be vulnerable and expressive,” said Pearl Leonard-Rock, Associate Director of The Butler Center. “It seems that when given opportunities to be in fellowship and dialogue, as well as personal commitments to engage, people in a community will seek to improve race relations and promote social justice.”

Later that afternoon, a Unity March began in Acacia Park and ended at the Mohrman Theatre. Participants united to walk for activism, engagement, and empowerment.

To top off a full day of events, the college was honored to have the Cleo Park Robinson Dance Ensemble perform in Armstrong Theatre. The ensemble, inspired by the African-American experience, is one of America’s foremost dance companies.

“I believe that events held in honor of MLK both here at CC and across the country can provide opportunities for people to meet and engage in conversations they may not otherwise engage in,” said Rock. “With the meaning of the day and the presence of both food and fun, many barriers are ignored or removed.”

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