Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

January 17, 2012

Civil Rights pioneer visits Goshen College for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

GOSHEN — GOSHEN — It was a day of song, reflection and positive affirmation at Goshen College Monday morning as students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day.

During the annual study day event, students at the college set aside their usual class schedules to attend an inspiration-filled presentation celebrating King’s message of equality for all individuals, no matter their race, gender or place of origin.

That message, brought so vividly to life on Aug. 28, 1963, with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, served as an undisputed catalyst in the American Civil Rights Movement, the message of which continues to inspire to this day.

Kicking off the celebration early Monday morning was a Spoken Word Coffeehouse event in the Church-Chapel Fellowship Hall where students, faculty and invited guests gathered for a program of poetry and storytelling drawn from the day’s theme of “Hope, History and Change”.

Among the first to speak during the coffeehouse event was GC student Joel Kawira of Tanzania who presented the poem “Notes from a Speech” by Amiri Baraka.

“I believe that it’s important for everybody to be aware of our past, and where we came from,” Kawira said of why he chose to speak Monday. “I think it’s good for the students to get involved, whether it’s through poems they like, or even their own experiences. I think it’s a good time for people to reminisce back on the old days and remember or history.”

Also presenting during the coffeehouse event was Gabriella Hydes, a GC student from the Cayman Islands, who presented the poem “Million Man March” by Maya Angelou.

“I feel like it’s important to remember this day, because most of the time I think it just kind of sits in the back of people’s minds,” Hydes said. “By doing something like this, I think it’s a good opportunity to really sit back and reflect on the past and our shared history.”

Following the coffeehouse-style gathering, attendees made their way to the college church-chapel for some inspirational music by the Parables worship team before hearing from the day’s featured speaker, Vincent Harding, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and close friend of Dr. King.

Included among Harding’s most notable accolades was the drafting of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered by King at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. Harding is also credited with founding the Institute of the Black World in 1969 and the Veterans of Hope Project in 1997.

As something new for the study day this year, the presentation of the featured speaker took the form of a question and answer session led by GC broadcasting major Yolo Lopez Perez, who in speaking with Harding brought up questions on everything from multiculturalism to Mennonite identity and what it means to be a servant leader.

Among the first questions to be asked of Harding during his presentation was “What does it mean to you to have a multicultural campus?”

“One of the first things that it means is that we have a community in which we encourage each other to share our uniqueness, and not push each other to become one thing that represents one culture, one life, one community,” Harding said. “We bring all the various experiences, histories, communities, cultures together, and help to create something new. That’s what I see as the strength and meaning of a multicultural community, a community built of many communities.”

When asked if he could give an example of where he sees that unity playing out at GC, Harding pointed to a recent musical performance by the GC group Parables, which he said successfully and beautifully meshed the influences of the African-American experience, Irish and numerous other cultures together into one amazing and vibrant song.

Shifting from the topic of culture to identity, Lopez Perez asked Harding his thoughts on whether he feels opening GC’s doors to so many different cultures and beliefs threatens its Mennonite identity.

“Identity is not something that is most valuable to us when we are grasping it,” Harding said in response. “It is most helpful when we say ‘How can we join what we have with what others have?’ We’ve got to be ready to look at the possibility that something new needs to be born. What we call Mennonite identity...must not be a block of stone that we set down.”

As a way to put imagery to his feelings, Harding gave the example of a caterpillar, noting that if it was never willing to change, it would “lose the chance to fly.”

As the idea of servant leadership is synonymous with the Mennonite faith, Lopez Perez then asked Harding what servant leadership looks like to him.

In response, Harding noted the life of King, who devoted his life to serving people, be it through interests in teaching, preaching or activism.

“King saw his role had to be something to do with serving the people,” Harding said.

In closing the discussion, Lopez Perez asked Harding to explain what has kept him going in his work as a teacher and activist for so many years despite all the different challenges and hardships that such a line of work can entail.

“Well, for one thing, my dear, I have committed myself as fully as God gave me grace, to take Jesus seriously,” Harding said. “If we want to walk with Jesus, we’ve got to look for the weakest, the poorest, and the most beat up, and the most pushed aside. If he is there, and if I say I want to follow him, then I need to be there too. So that’s what helps to inspire me.”

Text Only
Local News
  • GN140821 Pike Street Project 2 INDOT meeting held to discuss Pike Street project GOSHEN — Major changes may be on the way for a small section of Pike Street in downtown Goshen.

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0821 goshen college challenge Locals embrace ice bucket challenge It’s a challenge that has united participants with the shared sensation of an icy burst of water, sopping wet clothing and video evidence — all in the name of philanthropy.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 nisly complaint Complaint filed against state rep candidate Accusations of wrongdoing, in the form of a complaint to the Indiana Election Commission, have been levied against District 22 representative Republican nominee Curt Nisly.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 dometic groundbreaking Dometic breaks ground on significant expansion in Goshen GOSHEN — As Dometic officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million expansion of their Goshen distribution center Wednesday, the work was already underway in the background. “It’s happening right now,” said Dave Schutz, vice presi

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 Ignition art Plenty of good music on horizon at Ignition Several upcoming shows at Ignition Garage in Goshen were announced this week.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • City plan nearing a final draft GOSHEN — The city’s new comprehensive plan is nearing completion, and a near-final draft has now been released for public review. Goshen Plan Commission members released the draft of the city’s newly penned comprehensive plan, titled “Uncommonly Grea

    August 19, 2014

  • GN140820 Hakws building Hotel, brew pub plans progressing GOSHEN — Plans for a new boutique hotel and brew pub at the historic Hawks building in downtown Goshen continue to move ahead steadily.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 nappanee awards 031.jpg Nappanee mayor honors 'Spirited' youth NAPPANEE — Two Elkhart County 4-H’ers were honored by their hometown mayor during Monday’s city council meeting. Receiving the Community Spirit Award and a key to the city were Lane Flowers and Sarah Stump. Mayor Larry Thompson recognized Flowers, a

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • arlo.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs are looking for loving permanent homes at the Humane Society of Elkhart County.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nappanee Town Hall 02 Pay increases, gas part of Nappanee's 4% proposed budget increase NAPPANEE — Two percent pay increases and an increase in gasoline spending contributed toward a 4 percent increase in the proposed 2015 city budget. Council members approved the proposed budget on first reading Monday night. As it stands, the total of

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man