This year our first day of classes for the spring semester happens to fall on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Leading the organization of the College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events is Mr. Jeffrie Mallory, Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Life. Supporting him in this effort are the members of the Multicultural Student Collation, Campus Ministry, and a number of other College offices and student organizations. Normally we have a week of classes to prepare and publicize the events planned for this important day of service, celebration, and remembrance. Through advanced planning and hard work, Mr. Mallory has assembled a full slate of events for Monday, January 16.
From 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Robert S. Carey Center an interactive dream center will be created. Each year the dream center provides an opportunity for learning and connecting with others. At 4 p.m. a Prayer Service led by Archabbot Douglas will take place in Mary, Mother of Wisdom Student Chapel in the Carey Center. After the prayer service, an invitational dinner and program will be held in the Fred M. Rogers Center for students in the Multicultural Student Collation and guests. Those interested in attending should contact Mr. Mallory.
On Thursday evening, the Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilization Program will present Reflections on Martin Luther King’s Legacy, an academic roundtable from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Fred M. Rogers Center. The panel will include Dr. Michael P. Krom, assistant professor of philosophy; Dr. Timothy Kelly, professor of history; Dr. Thaddeus Coreno, associate professor of sociology; and Dr. Bradley C.S. Watson, Philip M. McKenna Chair of American and Western Political Thought and professor of politics. Dr. Jason R. Jividen, assistant professor of politics, has the enviable task of moderating this esteemed panel.
Borrowing from a tradition started by the Common Texts Program, I have asked each faculty member to consider incorporating some discussion of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their classes this week. Viewing Dr. King’s ideals of equality and social justice through the lenses of the different disciplines of the liberal arts and sciences provides an outstanding opportunity for learning. This also demonstrates the power of the liberal arts approach to addressing capacious issues like civil rights and social justice. In addition to all the events this week, my hope, my dream, is that every student at the College reads or listens to King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, reflects upon it, and discusses King’s dream with others.
This year, the first week of classes offers an opportunity to “let freedom ring.”
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
The ending of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech, August 28, 1963.
Dr. John Smetanka,
Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January, 2008.