Campuses celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy
Liz Lefevbre | Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Members of the Notre Dame family gathered yesterday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision of community with a prayer service honoring his legacy in the rotunda of the Main Building.
The service opened with the singing of “We Shall Overcome” by members of the Notre Dame Celebration Choir and continued with Hugh Page, dean of first year studies, reading an excerpt of King’s speech from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., from Nov. 17, 1957.
In the excerpt, King warned that civilization could be plunged into destruction if no one had the sense to increase love in our world.
Page acknowledged King’s message of the transformational power of love to forge peace and freedom. According to King, Page noted, “Love is the matrix from which community is born.”
A focus of the service was the connection between what King said in his powerful oratory and his actions, which followed through on his words.
“Martin Luther King had a spirituality that was grounded in fundamental truths with lived implications,” he said.
University President Fr. John Jenkins echoed these sentiments in his own remarks.
“The reason why we remember King and are inspired by King is that his life was consistent with his words,” Jenkins said. “He didn’t just live great speeches, he lived the very words he called us to.”
Jenkins also noted the significance of honoring King on the eve of President-elect Obama’s inauguration.
He compared the two men’s ability to deliver powerful oratory and said that it is especially important during this historic week to remember the higher calling to which King inspired people.
Senior Alyssa Zamora, who delivered a reading from Psalms during the prayer service, agreed.
“I think it is very important to remember Martin Luther King and his vision, especially this year with the inauguration [Tuesday]. I think we are really seeing a fulfillment of King’s vision.”
Second-year graduate student Danny Aijan agreed that it is important to honor the historic value that King had for the entire demographic of the country.
“Today is a celebration of our entire community,” Aijan said. “It is a testament to the progress of our country.”
Jenkins concluded the ceremony by saying the strength of King’s messages came from the fact that King did not always tell people what they wanted to hear, but rather called people to something higher.
“The power of King’s oratory was to call us to moral goodness and away from our own selfish interests,” he said. “As we go forth we can remember King’s power to connect what he said and did in his life. We can strive to better our lives to this higher calling.”