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Campus events celebrate activist

Karen Langley | Monday, January 17, 2005

Although both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s will continue to hold classes on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, each campus is sponsoring a number of events to commemorate this national holiday.

“I think it’s a good idea to have events commemorating [this day],” Brian Cardile, a Notre Dame junior, said. “I think it’s okay to have classes, especially since some of my professors are showing movies about Martin Luther King.”

Not all students share this view.

“The importance of these events is undermined by the fact that we have class, while other schools do not,” Notre Dame sophomore Kendra Morlok said. “These events are important, but more students would attend them if we did not have class.”

At Notre Dame, the Center for Social Concerns is working with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation of St. Joseph County and the Center for Peace and Nonviolence of St. Joseph County to cosponsor the visit of civil rights strategist Diane Nash.

The first event featuring Nash is an 11:30 a.m. march from the County City Building, located at 227 West Jefferson Boulevard in South Bend. Prior to the march, Nash will give a brief speech entitled, “Why March?”

The next event featuring Nash, a Martin Luther King Day workshop and lecture, will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the College Football Hall of Fame. The subject of this lecture is “Charismatic Leadership Has Never Freed Us.”

Nash will deliver her keynote address entitled “Will Nonviolence Work in the 21st Century?” at 7:00 p.m. in the Bendix Theatre of the County Center of South Bend.

“As we look at the 21st century, especially with the events of recent years, whether nonviolence will work is a poignant question to ask,” Rachel Tomas Morgan, director of International Service Learning and Justice Education at the Center for Social Concerns, said.

Various groups at Saint Mary’s have planned events to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. One MLK Day Remembrance Event is an ongoing viewing of “Eyes on the Prize,” highlighting segments of the 14-part series about the civil rights movement. This viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 303, Haggar. A number of King and civil rights resources will also be on display.

“I look forward to attending these events. They are great for our campus,” Saint Mary’s junior Katie Kelly said. “They celebrate the work that Martin Luther King has done and the work that needs to continue.”

At noon in Room 303 of Haggar, there will be a Soul Food Luncheon featuring some of King’s favorite dishes.

One of the more highly promoted MLK Day events at Saint Mary’s is the 14th Annual Interfaith Prayer Service Memorial of Martin Luther King, Jr., held at 4:30 p.m. in the Stapleton Lounge. The student-led prayer service will feature readings from King’s sermons and reflections by students. Campus Ministry’s written goals for service note it is intended to “allow members of the St. Mary’s community to gather in prayer for justice and peace among all people, in ways that welcome members of different religious communities.”

“The importance is how [Martin Luther King, Jr.] sent the message of living in a just world and bringing about peace,” Judy Fean, director of Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry, said. “This interfaith service is for all of us to come together to break down barriers and bring peace.”

The service will feature artwork by students in the after-school program at Marquette Primary Center, where many Saint Mary’s students volunteer. It is sponsored by Campus Ministry and cosponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Justice Education, the Intercultural Studies program the Office of Civic and Social Engagement, the Sisters of Nefertiti, the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership and the Intercultural Living Community.

“It is our hope that people come together to reflect on the life of a remarkable person and see that peace really is an option,” Annie Crew-Renzo, a Saint Mary’s campus minister, said.

The Saint Mary’s events will conclude with a showing of the movie “Four Little Girls” – a documentary by Spike Lee, that deals with an Alabama church bombing on September 15, 1963 – at 6:30 p.m. in the Carroll Auditorium.

“I think that the holiday is an American holiday, not an African-American holiday,” Notre Dame junior Rhea Boyd said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. was a national leader whose life work was, through mobilizing blacks, bringing our nation together. His effort is commendable, his dedication undeniable, and his wisdom simply incredible.”