"Marching On"GAMBIER, Ohio (December 19, 2011)
Planners of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Dialogue in 2012 intend to explore many dimensions of the King legacy.
The theme on January 16 is "Moving from Dream to Action," with a focus on poverty and civil rights, and the idea is to move beyond the comfortable image of King the dreamer and embrace the reality of King the protester - the man who made things happen.
"He practiced nonviolence, but that does not mean he was trying to make people feel better. He was disruptive," said Yutan Getzler, associate professor of chemistry and co-chair of the event planning committee.
In that vein, a creative "student-response" competition carries the theme of "Beyond Peacemaking: A Liberal Arts Response to King on Poverty and Civil Rights." Students have been asked to submit essays, poetry and works of art, music or performance on that theme. Prizes for three entries judged best will be awarded during the event.
The Kenyon faculty approved a reduced class schedule for the day, which opens the spring semester. Class times will be trimmed by ten minutes, opening a schedule opportunity for more students and professors to attend the event, with staff, in the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater from 3:00-5:30 p.m.
Ivonne Garcia, assistant professor of English and event co-chair, said the planning committee is taking an ambitious approach. "The faculty has given us their trust and their vote of confidence, and we want to respond by giving the faculty and the students a day to think in academic terms but also in emotional terms.
"What can I learn from Martin Luther King Jr. in terms of my own life and the life of my nation? We're hoping for a day full of power, full of inspiration."
The event will begin with a performance by the a cappella group Cornerstones, followed by remarks from President S. Georgia Nugent and a dramatic reading from the King speech "Our God is Marching On" by Jonathan E. Tazewell, Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama.
An interdisciplinary faculty panel, moderated by Christian Martinez-Canchola '12, will be followed by questions from the audience, some prompted by students selected for that role. Panel members include Jennifer L. Johnson, associate professor of sociology; Glenn M. McNair, associate professor of history; Nancy R. Powers, visiting assistant professor of political science; Donald L. Rogan, professor emeritus of religious studies; and Ric S. Sheffield, associate provost and associate professor of sociology and legal studies.
Dinner in the Peirce Hall Alumni Dining Room at 6:00 p.m. is designed to continue the conversation about King and his life's work. More discussion is planned during Common Hour on January 17, in the Peirce Hall Leach Dining Room.
A. Chris Kennerly, associate dean of students and director of multicultural affairs, is one on fourteen members of the planning committee and hopes to see the day's events continue to expand in the future. "I want the faculty to be more involved as far as a teach-in," he said. "There are so many different angles you can talk about. King is at the forefront, but it's about the (civil rights) movement."
The King holiday is an opportunity to enhance student knowledge about the civil rights movement and the depth and complexity of King's accomplishments, Kennerly and Garcia said. King's work against poverty and his stand against the Vietnam War are sometimes overlooked. Some students "know who Martin Luther King was, but they don't know that he wasn't just the I-have-a-dream man," Garcia said. "This needs to change. The point of this day is to make a connection between King's dream and what's happening today."
The event is sponsored by the planning committee and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.