Stokes ’17 and Professor Brady ’99 receive Social Justice Award at MLK Jr. Dinner


Crier\Tim Mannila

Linda Rey (center) presents Social Justice Award to Stokes ’17 (right) and Professor Brady ’99 (left).

Samantha Jette, Crier Staff

Donald Stokes ’17 and Loretta Brady ’99, professor of psychology, received the Social Justice Award at the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dinner on Jan. 18. The honor is awarded to one student and one staff member who works in and out of the classroom to promote social justice for all and was presented by Rebecca Senna, assistant director of the college’s Multicultural Center & Education Services and the center’s administrative assistant, Linda Rey.

Four students shared creative pieces. Sheila Ramirez performed Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”, Olivia Teixeira delivered a condensed version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Kyrel Jaundoo performed an original poem titled “I Stand Here”, and Katie Gemmell gave a reflection on her past experiences.

The dinner was the first event in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebratory Program. This year’s theme is “Unity, Not Uniformity”. Over 300 guests were treated to a meal, and had the opportunity to hear several speakers, including political analyst, Ms. Donna Brazile. Brazile’s speech also marked the inauguration of the “Diversity Speaker Series”.

Brazile has been an icon for inclusiveness in Washington. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, serving as Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000. As a member of the Democratic Party, she worked as an interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee twice. She also assisted President Bush in the efforts to repair the damage of Hurricane Katrina.

She began her speech by quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous line, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Brazile then reflected on the day when her grandmother informed her and her siblings that Dr. King had been shot. At the young age of eight, she did not understand why someone would take King’s life. Even now, she claimed, she can “still feel the emotion” from that day.

Upon learning that Dr. King had died, Brazile knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to finishing his work for justice, peace and equality. She says that this choice was easy for her at such a young age because she had a “keen sense of what reality was all about” after growing up in an environment where she was judged by the color of her skin.

King inspired her as a young child to make the world a better place. Brazile’s desire to pay it forward sparked her political work later in life, particularly when she spent two and a half years working around the country to designate a holiday in honor of Dr. King.

Giving her speech just days before the Inauguration of President Trump, Brazile touched upon her political stance. However, she stated that if he was alive today, King would not have gotten caught up in “silly partisan beliefs”, and instead would have worked for “freedom, justice and equality for all.” She said that while King would have been proud of the progress the world has made so far in terms of justice, she reminded the crowd that there was still work to be done. Brazile encouraged millennials in the room to continue in King’s footsteps, claiming that anyone can serve and give back to the community. “This moment is history”, she stated as she urged the young people to continue their fight to make a difference. She reminded those gathered of King’s famous words, “In times of great challenges, we don’t run, we march.”

Wayne Currie, director of the Multicultural Center & Education Services, expressed his satisfaction with the dinner; the department’s first large-scale event. He stated that the turn-out “exceeded his expectations, by a lot.”

According to Currie, there was a year-long process to select the keynote speaker for the event. Finally, the planning group decided on Donna Brazile, mainly because of her work in establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. Selecting Brazile “was like whipped cream on top of the ice cream,” says Currie.

Currie encourages the students at Saint Anselm to keep fighting as Donna Brazile encouraged and hopes the upcoming Inaugural Speaker Series events will spark this fight.

Students have the opportunity to attend more events in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebratory Program including a Book Display in Geisel Library from January 18th to February 24th, Lucubrations Open Mic Night on January 26th at the Coffee Shop, a Paint Bar on January 31st in the Living Learning Commons, and a visit from poet Tina Clark on January 31st in NHIOP. Currie says it is important that these events are interactive in order to get the students more involved and engaged in continuing King’s fight.