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MLK honored at SMC dinner

Sarah Swiderski | Friday, January 25, 2013


While the nation formally celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Saint Mary’s will honor the civil rights leader tonight at the second annual MLK Commemorative Dinner.

The dinner culminates the College’s week of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Senior and Student Diversity Ambassador Elizabeth Elsbach said the dinner’s theme, “Diversity Beneath the Skin,” encourages people to see through constructs that limit their interactions with others.

“Prejudice and intolerance go deeper than skin color and we wanted to highlight how we can help eliminate some of the prejudice in society by looking beyond the surface,” she said. “This year’s theme highlights how socioeconomic differences and other factors can be just as devastating and aid in creating a society that denies people their full potential.”

Assistant Director of Multicultural Services Tamara Taylor said College President Carol Ann Mooney’s strategic plan inspired the theme.

The theme enables the College community to “look at the students on campus who are not immediately [seen as diverse] and what they bring to campus,” Taylor said.

Mooney and senior London Lamar will be keynote speakers at the dinner, which is sponsored by Student Involvement and Multicultural Services and the Sisters of Nefertiti club. Elsbach and sophomore Dara Marquez will also read poetry.

Elsbach won Saint Mary’s Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize competition last year for her poem titled “Painting Empty,” which is about dispelling prejudices and misconceptions.

“[It’s] about first looking inward to dismantle personal prejudices before looking outward to tackle problems in the world,” Elsbach said.

The poem Elsbach will read at this year’s dinner expresses how people are both different and similar, she said.

“This year’s poem will be about a long past great-great-grandmother conversing with her descendant and the recognition that they have nothing in common,” Elsbach said. “Despite that, they still recognize each other’s humanity. I think they are important because they showcase an emotional, human element that is behind every great cause.”

Elsbach said celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day is vital.

“I think it is important for people to take time to remember and reflect on how far we’ve come in our fight against prejudice and recognize how far we still have to go,” she said.