‘Moment (F)or a Movement’ starts with dinner honoring MLK Jr.

Rosemary Lausier, Culture Editor

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, for the next several weeks, the Multicultural center and the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee among others, are staging various events occurring on campus. These events are part of the campus’ annual MLK program; ongoing since 2008. On January 19th, the campus community gathered in the North Lounge for a dinner commemorating Dr. King. The dinner included a reading of the Langston Hughes poem “I Dream a World”, a personal reflection by student Nyatan Bol, a speech by keynote speaker Dr. Loretta Brady, and the presentation of the two Social Justice Awards.

There are many reasons why it is so important for the college community to come together to celebrate MLK at the dinner. According to Yemi Mahoney, Director of the Multicultural Center, “It is a time to reflect on his unwavering determination and commitment to social change. It is a time to reflect on the state of “his dream” on campus and across the world. It is a time to reflect on our differences and our connectedness both as Anselmians and as human beings. And it is hopefully a time to reflect on the power we hold to facilitate change”.

This year’s theme for the MLK celebration is “A Moment (F)or a Movement”. The “A Moment (F)or a Movement” theme is based on the question about whether one wants to be an active participant in creating a just life for everyone. It is up to each individual to decide whether he wants to take part in a single moment, or in a moment that can lead to a movement. However, it is up to that individual to be the change and fight for the change he wants to see in the world. Similar to how Rosa Park’s actions in one moment sparked a national change, “One moment can define you for a lifetime”.

The recent events surrounding Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others definitely played a role in this year’s program. “If King were alive,” says Mahoney, “he would be involved with this movement. The current movement to protest inequalities in the criminal justice system is being heralded as a modern civil rights movement by many.”

The “Moment (F)or a Movement” theme was highlighted throughout the evening, and was a crucial part of Dr. Loretta Brady’s speech. Dr. Brady is an Associate Professor of Psychology here at Saint Anselm. She writes a column on diversity and inclusion matters for NH Business Review and founded BDS Insight: an organizational consultant firm that focuses on crisis, culture, and conflict management.

Dr. Brady started her speech by pointing out the various military and government branches of which former Saint Anselm students are now a part: CIA, FBI, Secret Service, US Attorney’s and LA and NYC Police Departments. She emphasized how our community influences people and policy in towns and cities and how because of this, we must remember how closely connected we are with other areas of the country.

Brady also drew from the recent demonstrations regarding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. She mentioned a previous statement by Oprah Winfrey regarding the leadership in these demonstrations. In an interview with People magazine, Oprah noted that there were no central figures or leaders in the recent demonstrations over police treatment. However, Brady was quick to challenge this point. She pointed out how MLK Jr. died because he was a central figure. However, he didn’t work alone. Similar to the civil rights movement, the demonstrations today have co-leaders who plan, heal, call-up, and drive the movement.

She went on to say how it may be hard to see the leadership. However, she emphasized that this moment “requires us to learn from history and to adapt to our situation”

Brady said that in this moment we have a choice to hold police accountable for their poor training and implicit biases. However, we still need to “recognize their vulnerability of personal judgment” The safety of black lives matter, but the safety of law enforcement matters as well.

She emphasized how Anselmians are all leaders in their own way. She said how we as students need to reflect on the ethics of the Benedictines in our calls to leadership. It requires us to “recognize, resist, and respond when justice isn’t recognized” and to “call for accountability for all”

Saint Anselm College faculty and students have already demonstrated the leadership to which Dr. Brady was referring. She referenced the student die-in in Davison, faculty and staff who keep talking about the issues, and students who are concerned for those experiencing injustice.

Mahoney agrees with this fact stating, “King’s legacy is everywhere. It is aligned with our mission as a Catholic, Benedictine institution. It can be found in our campus organizations, our programs and our policies. I see it in the everyday interactions of our community. We have made tremendous strides over the years, but there is still much work that needs to be done”.

Dr. Brady closed her speech by saying how we are leaders of this moment, and we are leaders for the movement. That “the time is now” to be leaders, fight for what is right, and to fight against injustice.

After Dr. Brady’s speech, two social justice awards were given to one faculty member and student. The social justice award, created by the Multicultural Center and the Martin Luther King Jr Planning Committee 2 years ago, is given to individuals who “have demonstrated leadership, compassion, and courage in promoting social justice while working to eliminate discrimination, oppression, and injustice locally and/ globally”

This year, the faculty award went to Communication Professor Jonathan Lupo. Diana Terell of the Education Department presented the award to Lupo and emphasized his courageousness and willingness to share his challenges in his family after his son’s cancer diagnoses. She said, “Dr. Lupo has provided our community with an opportunity to question our beliefs, to examine our assumptions, and reaffirm our commitment to justice and equality… He has shone a light so Anselmians can find a way”.

When accepting his award, Lupo addressed the school’s role in helping him overcome these personal challenges. He said, “This community has given me and my family so much, and I use it as an opportunity to give back and pay it forward to others”

Susan Gabert presented the second award to Senior Haley Mount. Mount, a Communication major and Peace and Justice Minor, has participated in numerous areas of campus life. She has been a participant and leader in Service and Solidarity trips, serves as a member of the CORE Council for Gay and Lesbian students, acts as Rugby captain, and has participated in the Walk for Hope. As Gabert fought back tears, she praised Mount for “leading with joy and a sense of humor… and a real humble and human connection with those she leads.”

She explained how Mount demonstrates the hospitality, care and concern for others, a generosity of spirit, and willingness for continual growth and renewal; all characteristic of an exceptional Anselmian.

Gabert continued by saying how Haley has “enabled and empowered others to become engaged and challenged them in the engagement to wrestle with these issues and advocate for those they serve… Haley has personally integrated this mission into her life and inspired others to do the same”.

The evening ended with Yemi Mahoney asking all in attendance to take a pledge. As volunteers gathered around the room, each participant lit a candle and recited to one another, “The time is now”.

Mahoney hope that the attendees left the dinner with the belief that, “’We all have the power to facilitate positive social change… we should not remain silent when we see injustice. Knowing what to do is often the right thing. Stepping up to do it is often the hard thing. We are all connected despite our differences. King said, ‘the time is always right to do the right thing’. We need to work to make things better now”.

As Anselmians, we should try to follow the King’s leadership, and use examples from the past and present to fight for justice and equality for all. Posters for the Martin Luther King Jr. Program are available in various buildings around campus with dates of following events. The events will last until February 21 with a screening of Selma in Dana.