Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation Unites Wittenberg And Springfield Communities
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — A captivated audience of Wittenberg faculty, staff and members of the Springfield community sat in the filled-to-capacity pews of Weaver Chapel to hear accomplished writer Michael Eric Dyson present the keynote address during the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation, Jan. 15
An ordained Baptist minister and Avalon Foundation professor in the humanities and African American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Dyson discussed “Dr. King for the 21st Century.”
“Dr. King had a dream, but he also entertained the nightmare,” Dyson said, calling the camouflaging of the nation’s past the ‘United States of Amnesia.’ There is a thrombosis of civic disparity, and we can’t forget the past.”
Dyson’s provocative thoughts about King’s legacy included illustrating how everything from animals to human beings work together to create a sense of unity that society fails to acknowledge.
Dyson’s message paralleled Wittenberg’s recent discussion on “Poverty vs. Privilege in the Black Community,” which included dialogue on his book, Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
Though the civil rights era is seen as a race- based movement, Dyson reminded those in attendance of the socioeconomic problems.
“We need to come together and disabuse ourselves of differences,” Dyson said. “You don’t know what someone has just by seeing them.”
As an icon in the African American community, Dyson continues to educate across socioeconomic lines about hard-hitting issues through his books, television appearances and the eclecticism found in his subject matter. I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr., Pride, Between God and Gangsta Rap, and Why I Love Black Women
are just a handful of the titles that fill his authorial repertoire.
A processional consisting of Wittenberg faculty in full academic regalia, Wittenberg’s IMANI Gospel Choir and the Concerned Black Students (CBS) Executive Board ushered in the beginning of convocation, followed by a welcome from Mark H. Erickson, Wittenberg’s 13th president. IMANI also performed, and CBS president Terraya Lewis, class of 2007 from Cleveland, Ohio, introduced the speaker.
The celebration has grown each year and has incorporated new elements, which have blossomed into a series of events. Monday’s activities included a Freedom March, and a question and answer session with Dyson followed by a book signing. The faculty also voted not to cancel classes but to adjust the academic schedule to accommodate the formal convocation and colloquia and other appropriate gatherings for reflection, discussion and consideration of issues pertaining to civil rights.
On April 10, 1990, the Wittenberg faculty voted to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an academic convocation addressed by a nationally recognized leader of the African American community or of the Civil Rights Movement. The annual commemoration of King’s life and work began in 1991.
“Dr. King was a threat to America,” Dyson said. “He was a threat because he was allergic to inequality and injustice. He worked so hard because he wanted to challenge America to live up to its best.”
By: Erica Strauss
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