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SMC students march for peace and history

Liz Harter | Tuesday, January 22, 2008

About 45 students and faculty participated in the first annual March for Peace to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Saint Mary’s campus Monday.

College President Carol Ann Mooney commended the idea of a march and said she hoped it would be a recurring activity at the College.

“Love is not passive, it is active,” Mooney said. “It’s that love that you have that can transform this place [Saint Mary’s] because this is a place that still needs transforming. It is a place in which love needs to grow and stretch.”

She said the tradition of the march should not stop until there is enough love at Saint Mary’s to love everyone and to learn from everyone.

The idea for the march originated with the College’s Sisters of Nefertiti club, club president LaQuay Boone said Thursday.

The march for peace should not be looked at as a way from destination A to destination B, said Lawrence Giden, a member of the Civil Rights Heritage Center at Indiana University South Bend.

“[This march] has a destiny and a purpose,” Giden said.

Giden said he was glad that Reverend H. Gregory Haygood, the pastor at Pilgrim Baptist Church in South Bend was present at the march because it was very reminiscent of the marches that King participated in during the 1950s and 1960s.

“They always had ministers in the front lines,” he said. “It shows that God was with them.”

After marching from the atrium of the student center to Haggar Parlor, Mooney read King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was spoken during the march on Washington, D.C. in 1963, along with religious studies professor Stacy Davis and four students.

After the reading, Haygood spoke of his own experiences with the Civil Rights Movement as he grew up in Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s.

“I experienced many attacks and things of that nature just because of the color of my skin,” Haygood said. “However, it was demanded in my household that evil was not retaliated by evil.”

Haygood recounted the story of his older brother who felt compelled to march with King in the August 1963 march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. His white employer told him that he would lose his job were he to participate.

Haygood’s mother told his brother that he must follow his convictions and allowed him to march even though his job helped support the family.

“King’s mission was a mission to secure equality and fairness and rights for persons of all colors who were disenfranchised in society,” Haygood said. “I want to encourage you tonight to continue to make the dream the reality. One of things that interferes with racial oneness is that blacks stay with blacks and whites stay with whites, so we never really understand each other.”

Senior Caitlyn Mack was one of the many marchers who walked through the dark and cold holding only a candle. She joined the participants in the student center as they sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in the student center atrium and “We Shall Overcome” during the march.

“I wanted to take part because I wanted to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his impact on the world,” Mack said.

Participating in the march allowed Mack to gain some perspective on King’s demonstration, she said.

“I can’t imagine being violently attacked and verbally abused while marching and not giving up. Those people [who marched with King] had great determination and they still do. We need to follow their example.”