The words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech reverberated in a packed Memorial Chapel during Monday’s opening ceremony for MLK Week.
Kori Strother ’15 delivered the student keynote speech, and in the spirit of King’s mission discussed the tenets of a liberal arts education and how activism comes in many forms.
“Where would we be if Martin Luther King Jr. and the many others who fought vigilantly for equal rights for black people by sparking the civil rights movement did not take a stand? Where would we be if they waited?”
Strother also addressed the continued struggle for racial equality on a national scale and issues surrounding inclusivity on Colgate’s campus.
“Let’s take this moment, this first day of the semester at Colgate, to acknowledge both how far we’ve come and the extensive amount of work that needs to be done in order to move us forward,” she said.
In her remarks, Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson cited her welcome-back-to-campus letter to students. She asked: “What does it really mean for us to be a member of a family; a Colgate family?”
Nelson posed questions about the best ways to move forward after moments that test the fortitude of the Colgate community, as well as ways to create more meaningful relationships with one another.
“My hope for this week [is] that we will celebrate Dr. King’s work and recommit to his ideals of a liberal arts university, and we will embrace the ties that bind us because they are much stronger than those that try to tear us apart,” said Nelson.
Tom Bennett ’72, of the National Abolition Hall of Fame, spoke about Central New York’s strong historical ties with abolitionism and civil rights leaders. The program also featured a capella performances from the Mantiphondrakes and the Colgate Thirteen.
The opening ceremony was followed by several workshops in the ALANA Cultural Center, including one by Professor Charles Banner-Haley called “Extending Civil Rights to Human Rights and the Consequences Thereof.”
The week’s keynote address by civil rights activist, author, and sociologist Joyce Ladner will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Chapel. It is titled “Freedom Summer and Beyond: The Roles of Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement.”
There are numerous other events throughout the week that can be viewed on the Colgate Mobile App or at colgate.edu/mlk.