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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.”


The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Campuses celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy

Mandi Stirone | Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nearly 40 students, faculty and administrators participated in a candlelit march from the Saint Mary’s Student Center to Haggar Parlor yesterday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Martin Luther King Day Celebration Commemorative March and Interfaith Prayer Service started in the Student Center with talks and prayers given by Saint Mary’s students and members of the community.

Lynn Coleman, assistant to the Mayor of South Bend, addressed participants about the significance of marching. He reflected on how the concept of marching was something that the “new generation of people” had “only read about these marches.” He also noted that yesterday’s march happened on the eve of another monumental event, the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

“One day we will not have to come together to march to make things right,” he said.

Others who spoke before the march began included Jacquitta Martin, LaQuay Boone and Adriana Rodriguez. Kristle Hodges also led the group in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Marchers lit their candles outside of the student center and walked in a large group singing “We Shall Overcome.”

College President Carol Ann Mooney then presented a reflection to students. She told students she was going to give a bit more of a personal reflection than she usually would give, discussing the impending inauguration and the distrust that her generation felt in the government.

She said she had a “very vivid memory of the people’s March on Washington.”

“They had a dream of America,” she said, “They had a dream of a day when they would be freer than ever before.”

She added that she hopes the current generation will be free of the cynicism that plagued her own generation.

“We stand on the evening of a new era of hope,” she said, referring to the inauguration. “You are that new generation. I hope you see with different eyes than I saw. I hope you see clearer and farther and with more hope.”

Eight students and faculty performed a choral reading of King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

The event concluded with prayer, scripture and song led by Campus Ministry.