July 14, 2024

On Thursday, Jan 24., faculty shared the podium with students as they took turns reading pages of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from A Birmingham Jail.” Photos displaying sit-ins, blacks being hosed down with water and other forms of violence were set on tripods near the podium. A separate copy of the Birmingham letter printed on large paper hung on the balcony of the second floor, visible to passersby. Of the few who stopped to listen, a brief introduction by Weaver Chapel’s Dan Jacob was heard. Jacob reflected on King’s role as an activist and preacher, noting his perseverance and the challenges he faced in his leadership. Following Jacob, professor Rick Incorvati began the first reading of the letter. From then on, voices loud and soft traveled through Hollenbeck hall, one of them coming from junior Samantha Reynolds who said she was appreciative of the experience. “I was honored to be asked to read, and as I read, I was focused on doing his words justice,” Reynolds said. “Shat stands out to me in particular is how relevant his writing continues to be.” Junior Erykah Andrews also felt the relevancy of King’s words as she read. “I have read his letter about a dozen times now, but sadly, I still have the same emotion that epistemic violence and injustice is still going on within the black community today,” Andrews said. Andrews said she not only felt obligated to participate, as a member of the black community, but she wanted to evoke King’s words with power. Professor Kate Polak said she used her theater experience to capture some of that “spirit.” But, most of all, in light of Dr. King, Polak was appreciative of that week’s civil action. “I’m grateful for all of the actions of CBS and the supporting faculty this week,” Polak said. “And I felt like this was a nice cap on a week that felt like a much more active celebration of Martin Luther King’s legacy than perhaps we’ve had in recent years.” After the final page was read by professor Sha’Dawn Battle, Pastor Rachel Tune gave a few remarks, and those from the remaining crowd gathered around the photos on display, viewing in silence.

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