Carleton students joined the nation in celebrating the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, the famous civil rights activist and minister with a candlelight vigil and dinner.
Students began their recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Sunday evening at a candlelight service in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Guest speaker Reverend Oliver White began the service by speaking on the topic of “A Love Ethic Grounded in the Gospel of Jesus.”
“I challenge Carleton College tonight,” said White to the assembled members of the Carleton community, “to put on the armor of love… I charge you to lift up every voice and sing until earth and heaven ring with harmony and liberty. This is our charge, this is our calling: that all of humankind will one day be able to stand up, like Martin Luther King said, and be able to shout ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, I am free at last.’”
Reverend White’s sermon was followed by a performance of Carleton’s Jubilee Singers, who led students and faculty in the singing of “This Little Light of Mine.”
As they sang, participants lit one another’s candles. Those assembled then moved to the chapel’s lobby, where they discussed the importance of the holiday over a vegetarian soup dinner.
Amelia Schlossberg, a senior member of the Jubilee Singers, said that she appreciated the breadth of Reverend White’s message. “I love how he brings in different traditions,” Schlossberg said. “I have been to this event the past three years, and I always leave feeling inspired.”
Iman Jafri ’15 also enjoyed the chapel service as a chance to reflect on the importance of Dr. King’s achievements. “‘I think commemorating [Dr. King’s] life isn’t just a matter of commemorating the life of one person but of one struggle and cause that affects everyone, everywhere,” said Jafri. “[Ultimately, MLK day] is about individual growth and trying to be a better person, and that’s always worth considering.”
On Monday, students and faculty were invited to celebrate MLK day in the Goodhue Superlounge at a dinner hosted by Carleton’s office of Intercultural and International Life.
Professor Harry Williams, Laird Bell Professor of History, delivered the keynote speech of the dinner, with the title “Beyond ‘I have a Dream’: Dr. King Listens to a ‘Crazy’ Man”. The event also featured poetry, music and student reflections celebrating Dr. King’s memory.
Isaama Stoll, a junior Religion major, said that she believed it was important to keep the memory of Dr. King’s achievements alive by revisiting them on the holiday named in his honor.
“I think he was a very important role model, and accomplished a lot,” said Stoll. “If we don’t continue to honor and analyze the messages he gave us, then we’re fundamentally missing out on the opportunity to learn from a great hero.”
Evan Lebowitz ‘13 a senior Linguistics major, echoed Stoll’s comments, emphasizing the importance of understanding Dr. King’s message within the context of a liberal arts education.
“We are only at Carleton for four years,” said Lebowitz. “After that, we go out into all sorts of different types of places and interact with all sorts of different types of people… part of a liberal arts education is preparing us for living in the world, as a part of the whole.”