Connecticut College celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
To overcome racism and oppression, the essential first step is to ensure that social disparities are not normalized.
That was a key message delivered by Naomi Miller ’22 as she spoke during “Dreaming of Another World,” an event commemorating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Organized by the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, the event examined the meaning of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in today’s world.
“Societal dysfunctions such as lack of access to affordable healthcare are not normal,” Miller told the audience in Harkness Chapel. “Food deserts are not normal. And when we internalize ourselves as victims of that dysfunction, we convince ourselves that the problem is too large to solve.”
“Dreaming of Another World” included student performances and speeches from members of the College community that sought to expand King’s vision by promoting a commitment to solidarity.
After introductory remarks and a land acknowledgment by Truth Hunter, director of Race and Ethnicity Programs, dance students who recently returned from studying abroad in Ghana performed a traditional dance accompanied by Africa drums played by the Crocodile River Music collective.
“What does it mean to use our radical imaginations to create a world without oppression that does not exist at this moment?” Hunter asked, adding, “I know that we must do it collectively, and I know we’re up to the challenge.”
King, universally renowned as one of history’s most stirring orators, was channeled through a variety of recitations and performances that incorporated excerpts from some of his speeches and tied them to current societal challenges.
“Memorial events like this one are important for at least three reasons,” said President Katherine Bergeron. “They encourage us to remember the work of a great leader from the past and reflect on his relevance for our time. They encourage us to see the extent to which the work he started is still unfinished. And, because of this, they encourage us to dream, and to envision the part that we ourselves must play in carrying on the work of making a more just world.”
After performances by the Connecticut College Gospel Choir and a special presentation by Andre Thomas ’20 that contrasted the different approaches to civil rights activism taken by King and fellow civil rights icon Malcom X, the keynote address was delivered by Director of Religious and Spiritual Programs Angela Nzegwu, who spoke about the lasting impact of King’s work.
“What started as a cry for justice for southern blacks living under Jim Crow and anti-black laws, grew into a broader call for the end of the evils of racism, poverty and war,” Nzegwu said.
“King’s legacy and dream speak to us today, and invite us to find those themes that are buried deep down inside of us that make us one humanity, and one family.”