At 7:30 p.m on Sunday, Jan. 17, University of Redlands hosted a ceremony in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The ceremony included musical numbers from the choir, solo performances, passage readings from students, and a sermon provided by Reverend Howard Fauntroy. Although classes were in session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus was not bereft of celebration.
“The first Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) national celebration was in January of 1986. So this marks 30 years that we’ve been doing these events,” said University of Redlands chaplain John Walsh.
The message conveyed throughout the night was a reminder that hate cannot drive out hate– only love can do that. They reminded us that we must challenge ourselves to go out of our comfort zones in order to make progress. They reminded us that we cannot move forward until we admit that this is where we are now.
“The reason I think we do [the ceremony] is because there are really few people in our world whose words and lives have carried the weight that King’s did,” Walsh said. “If you go back and reread his speeches and the words he spoke and the actions he took, it not only moves you but it boggles your mind that what he said 50 years ago is as relevant today as it was when he spoke it.”
Reverend Fauntroy, a friend of Walsh’s from his time at Middlebury College, was a guest speaker at the ceremony.
“All people may take refuge in the shadow of your waves,” Fauntroy quoted from the bible. He also preached that we are “never alone” if we maintain “steadfast love”.
In light of the increased effort put into improving race relations on campus, the words of King are all the more relevant. The events that the university is putting on are intended to push social equality further and remind the student body that we must maintain hope, peace and faith.
“Whether it’s one person or one hundred people or one thousand, that are moved by something we say and do, that challenges you to want to be better and to do more, it makes a difference,” Walsh said. “If in the end it’s just one person who really gets energized, everything we did was worth it.”
As discussed in the ceremony, we must remain steadfast in our actions if we expect change to occur. Black lives will always continue to matter, as University of Redlands senior Emma Wade expressed in her passage reading at the ceremony. We must work together, hand in hand, to keep sight of and eventually achieve our dreams.
As Dr. King was quoted near the end of the night,
“The human spirit does not move without great difficulty. We are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision. But we must speak.”
[Photo courtesy of Sky Ung, Redlands Bulldog photographer]