AUTHOR: Ashley Benedict
This coming Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here on GVSU’s campus, we are taking an entire week to commemorate MLK – both his memory and legacy. The theme of the week is “Engaging and Empowering Community,” and will include social justice workshops, the annual campus lunch and silent march, two keynote presentations, and the MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity. For the second time, this year’s commemoration will also include GVSU’s fourth annual Teach-In entitled Power, Privilege and Difficult Dialogues. This is a day-long event in which students and staff come together to speak about issues that are important and pertinent to social justice issues today. Some events include, “Understanding the Significance of Stereotype Threat,” “Survivor Behavior: Navigating a Culture of Blame,” “Difficult Conversations: Examining the Systemic Discrimination in the US Criminal Justice System,” “Power, Privilege, and Allyship in the LGBTQIA+ Community,” and so many more.
I feel rather lucky to go to a university where these kinds of events even exist. I feel even luckier that the faculty across campus are so willing to engage in these difficult conversations with their students.
Martin Luther King Jr. spent his life working towards justice and peace. He dreamed of a world where it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is (or, presumably, any other factor that you can be discriminated against for), but the content of your character. I think that including events that bring awareness to the still-existing social injustices that occur within our society is the first step to reaching true equality for all. In order to accept and be accepted, we must first educate ourselves and others. It is our job to finish what he started all those years ago.
Like Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream. I dream that one day, we will move beyond the imaginary lines that divide us and we will work together towards a better tomorrow. Let us not keep this as a pipedream. Let us make this our reality.
I highly recommend attending at least one of these events. You may find that your worldview changes – or, if you’re already aware of these issues, you may just learn something about the world you hadn’t known before.
To learn more about GVSU’s MLK Commemoration Week, click here.
For more information on GVSU’s annual Teach-In, click here.