Honoring KingGAMBIER, Ohio (January 12, 2011)
A day of dialogue has grown this year into the Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue at Kenyon as the event hits its stride in its third year.
Events honoring King and his message include a faculty/student panel discussion and Gospel Choir performance on Monday afternoon, followed by an extended conversation over dinner on Monday, a student panel discussion Tuesday at Common Hour, and related activities, including a student essay contest, through February, which is Black History Month.
"We want to continue to raise consciousness about the issue of race relations in the United States and also about alternatives to war and confrontation that King stands for," said Ivonne García, assistant professor of English, who serves on the event planning committee. King, she said, established a model of ethics and a model for "taking responsibility for the improvement of the society we all share."
The King Days of Dialogue event is now more firmly planted in the life of the College, with a budget provided by the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the first time. Community Development Fund grants were used in previous years.
A speech by King, delivered at a freedom rally in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 10, 1957, will serve as a common reading and "unifying material" in advance of Monday's events in the Brandi Recital Hall. In that speech King took what he called a "realistic position" about race relations in the United States, saying, "We have come a long, long way but we have a long, long way to go." He added later in the speech, "The clock of destiny is ticking out. We've got to say to this nation that we are not fighting for ourselves alone, we are fighting for this nation."
President S. Georgia Nugent will welcome participants at 4:10 p.m. Irene López, assistant professor of psychology, will introduce the common reading. A faculty/student panel will address the issue of racial progress. The panel will be moderated by Jené Schoenfeld, assistant professor of English, and will include Chris Kennerly, associate dean of students and director of multicultural affairs; Peter Rutkoff, professor of American studies; Christian Martínez-Canchola '12; Julian Tancredi '12; and Nancy Truong '11.
A performance by the Gospel Choir and a drawing for prizes that include books and recordings by and about King will follow the discussion. The action in Brandi will be conveyed via Skype to the Olin Auditorium if needed for an overflow crowd.
The conversation will continue over dinner at Peirce Hall at 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, a Common Hour (11:10 a.m.) panel of students including the leaders of student organizations and discrimination advisors will discuss racial progress specifically at Kenyon, in Peirce Hall (Room L21, the Leach Private Dining Room).
The Days of Dialogue will continue into Black History Month, starting with the essay contest. The topic is racial progress: "How far have we come? How far do we have to go?" Essays of no more than a thousand words must be submitted by February 1, and the judging will be announced at the end of month. The prize for the best essay is an electronic reader, provided by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Second- and third-place prizes, provided by the African Diaspora Studies Program, include gift certificates to the College Bookstore and Middle Ground. "We decided we should stimulate the idea of writing and writing critically at Kenyon," García said.
Spike Lee's documentary film 4 Little Girls will be shown in the Kenyon Athletic Center theater on February 19, with a discussion led by Jonathan Tazewell, Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama. The film examines the events surrounding the racial terrorist bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. The screening is cosponsored by the Kenyon Film Society.
The new budgetary status for the Days of Dialogue reflects the evolution of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Kenyon, with faculty, students, and staff building on celebrations organized in past years and working closely with Kennerly, who is one of nineteen members of the current planning committee. "It's not just the Office of Multicultural Affairs," García said. "It's all of Kenyon coming together."
The King speech from 1957 and rules for the essay contest can be found via Moodle.
The Knox County community marks the King holiday at 9:00 a.m. on Monday at Gund Commons with the Eighth Annual Celebration Breakfast, cosponsored by Kenyon and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. The keynote speaker is the Rev. Josephus Foster, pastor of Fountain of Hope Church of the Nazarene and executive director of Fountain of Hope, an inner-city ministry in Columbus, Ohio. The event is free but breakfast reservations must be made in advance by calling Lori Shults, 740-427-5847, or Hannah Byrd, 740-397-9000.