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Read-In honors MLK’s words, legacy

The Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Speeches Read-In invited faculty and students to recite some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous lectures.

This event, along with many other gatherings during MLK week, provided a space for minority students to embrace their history. 

Led by Religious & Spiritual Life, the event gave community members the opportunity to hear recited versions of “I Have a Dream,” “Our God Is Marching On,” and “The Other America,” among others in Knowles Memorial Chapel last Sunday.

King was an advocate for equality, dignity, and rights for African Americans. The speakers connected King with contemporary issues, discussing with compassion and spirituality. 

Victoria Brown, professor of English, was one such speaker. She said, “We are living in trying times right now for the nation, and I think it is more important than ever that we observe and remember the legacy of Dr. King and his work.”

Italia Rico-Hurtado (‘20), a Defferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student and advocate, said, “As a dreamer, I have a dream that every mountain and every valley will be brought low and that the recognition I and the other dreamers deserve as a citizen in this country will be realized one day.”

Singers from the Music Department joined the event, contributing to the room’s solemn atmosphere. African American spirituals were performed by Ruby Abreu (‘20), Chadonne Whiskey (‘20), and Krystelle Delice (‘21). 

Papaa Kodzi (‘21), president of the Black Student Union (BSU), reflected on the educational ideals of King and Rollins’ global citizenship mission: “By educating yourself and by learning to understand other people’s experiences, and learning our history, we can better ourselves and our understanding of humanity,” Kodzi said. 

At the event, Kodzi recited the speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” 

Rollins faculty and students contemplated the nation’s progress following King’s legacy, as well as the work that still needs to be done in order to foster a society that values equality, fraternity, and justice. As the signs advertising MLK week say, “The march goes on.” 

Morgan Snoap (‘20) appreciated the event’s ties to modern problems: “I enjoyed the adaptation of the speeches to fit the more contemporary era and be more inclusive. We still have issues about racism in American society, and by talking about these issues, it helps to continue on fighting,” Snoap said. 

At the event, President Grant Cornwell spoke about the importance of morality and education. He said, “Moral progress is not linear; it’s more like a spiral that has setbacks. I believe that education is the key to free yourself from any sort of ignorance and prejudice.” 

Jennifer Cavenaugh, dean of faculty, encourages students to attend these events and support the community. 

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to be inspired to continue the work of Dr. King,” Cavenaugh said. 

Sunday’s event was sponsored by the Office of Religious Life and Rev. Katrina Jenkins, who added, “It is my hope that this will be an evening of inspiration.” 

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