January 18, 2012
Knox College hosted its annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16 with a convocation that included musical performances, poetry readings, and an address that focused on King's belief in economic justice.
Knox Associate Professor Konrad Hamilton, chair of the American studies program, (photo at right, with Professor Magali Roy-Fequiere) delivered the convocation address, "Martin Luther King: A Day for the 99 Percent."
King's desire to bridge the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" was uppermost in his mind just before his 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was supporting striking garbage workers, Hamilton said. If King were alive today, he would be "greatly disappointed and saddened at the rise of poverty, the shrinking of the middle class, and the staggering growth in the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us over the last 40 years."
King would take a great interest in the "occupy" movements that have sprung up across the United States because they are grass-roots, nonviolent demonstrations aimed at spurring changes in public policy, Hamilton added.
King "showed us how to exercise our collective power and responsibilities as American citizens," he said. King's approach -- nonviolence and civil disobedience -- grew from a long-standing tradition of activist citizenship in the United States, exhibited by numerous historical figures, including Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.
The Winter Term Convocation celebrating King's life and legacy took place in Harbach Theatre in the Ford Center for Fine Arts.
In welcoming remarks, Knox College President Teresa Amott (photo at left, at the microphones) said it is especially fitting to "celebrate the life and the legacy" of the slain civil rights leader this year, which marks Knox College's 175th anniversary.
The founders of Knox College and the city of Galesburg, like King, had their minds "stayed on freedom," she said, using a phrase from Woke Up This Mornin', a freedom song the Knox College Choir (photo at top) performed moments earlier at the convocation. Knox Professor of Music and Director of Choirs Laura Lane directed the choir's performance.
Others who spoke were Amott; Hamilton; Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde (photo below left); Knox Professor Fred Hord, (photo below right) chair of the Black Studies program; and Knox senior Monica Prince (photo above right). Hord and Prince read poetry selections.