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Fellowship rallies in honor of MLK, Jr.

John-Paul Witt | Thursday, April 5, 2007

Snow flurries did not deter the more than 40 students in the Notre Dame Peace Fellowship from rallying at the Clarke Memorial Fountain Wednesday to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

The rally featured speeches on King’s teachings and the war in Iraq, a recitation of facts – including the number of civilian deaths sustained in the conflict – and a Scripture reading and prayer service.

Speakers also commemorated King’s April 4, 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” Organizers played a song composed of quotes from King’s speeches and related them to the current conflict in Iraq.

Sophomore Michael Angulo, an NDPF member, coordinated the event.

Calling King a “modern-day prophet,” Angulo exhorted listeners to follow King’s “legacy of faith, justice, service and peace.”

“As he said in his speech against the Vietnam War, ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal,'” Angulo said of King.

NDPF member Casey Stanton, a senior, addressed the obligations of Christians concerned about the war.

“We call ourselves followers of Christ, but our actions in the world show we are more like a Judas,” she said. “We should be more concerned about our brothers and sisters – innocent Iraqis … and American soldiers.”

Angulo said Peace Fellowship members were “inspired” to hold the rally by the Catholic Worker demonstration in front of the Main Building March 26, during which several members of the Catholic Worker movement received arrest tickets by the Notre Dame Security/Police.

“They came to campus to raise awareness about peace, but [peace activists are] already on campus,” Angulo said. “We felt that we needed to do more to educate people at Notre Dame.”

The decision to stage an event – which came after the Progressive Student Alliance’s “Week of Action” in March – was also motivated by the strong turnout at the March 19 lecture by two Marine veterans on the Iraq war.

“After 170 people came to see the veterans, we realized there was a desire on campus to have more dialog about what’s going on in our country and in Iraq,” Angulo said.

Following Wednesday’s rally, Angulo said the Peace Fellowship plans to continue its anti-war activism through inspiring “professors to speak out against the war and have more dialogue” with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

The Peace Fellowship has held several forums with ROTC leaders in the past.

The rally was disturbed at one point by hecklers who called the participants “hippies” and told them to “go get high,” but the shouts did not halt the proceedings.