To reflect and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the importance of youth activism, and the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are sponsoring a MLK Week titled “Youth in Action: Awakening the Dream.” From Monday, Jan. 19 through Thursday, Jan. 22, the Colleges have planned a number of events so that students, faculty, staff and community members can celebrate diversity together, contextualize the significance of the new president, and make a difference in the community through service work.
“Students at Hobart and William Smith are deeply invested in social and political causes all year long,” explained President Mark D. Gearan. “The celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the inauguration of Barack Obama, gives us a special opportunity to celebrate and remember the history that has led us here.”
Intercultural Affairs Director Alejandra Molina agrees. “Our hope is that the HWS community, especially its students, will continue to recognize MLK Day and the importance of service not only on one day but for the semester, if not as an ongoing goal.”
On Monday, Jan. 19 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., HWS students will partner with members of the Geneva community in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, allowing them to join others in service across the nation, including President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, by serving the Geneva and surrounding communities. To sign up for a two-hour commitment, contact Katie Flowers at email@example.com.
Also on Monday, Jan. 19 at 9:30 a.m., members of the HWS community are invited to participate in the Annual Memorial March from the Public Safety Building on Exchange Street to the First United Methodist Church on South Main Street, where the Annual Martin Luther King Day Service and Fellowship Dinner will take place. The event will feature Keynote Speaker and William Smith Alumna Dr. Fay Maureen Butler ’84.
Butler is the Deputy Director of Enrollment Services at the CUNY Office of Admissions, and the founder and director of Rohoboth College Counseling Services. Her research and academic interests focus on African American high school students. She is especially interested in how and why they choose colleges or other pathways. As a William Smith student, she was a political science major, a member of Hai Timiai Honor Society and a Heron basketball player. After receiving her B.A. at William Smith, Butler went on to earn her M.A., M.Ed. and an Ed.D. from Columbia University.
Later in the day, cake will be served for a fun, informal ‘Happy Birthday, Dr. King’ celebration at 6 p.m. in Saga Dining Hall. There will be a number of student performances and musicians.
The following day, Tuesday, Jan. 20, will be spent in recognition of the historic inauguration of President-elect Obama. “This is a moment not to be missed,” explained Student Activities Director Robert Pool, organizer of the Inauguration Celebration. “The inauguration offers a brilliant symbol of new hope and – I believe – a deeper trust in our democratic government.”
Responding to student and Geneva community interest, the Colleges will screen the inauguration speech live throughout Scandling Campus Center: on screens in hallways, the Café and three screens in the Vandervort Room. At 5 p.m., an Inauguration Celebration will take place, featuring a welcome from President Gearan, a screening of a pre-recorded video of the inauguration, a slideshow of local and national youth activism, a live call-in from two Geneva residents attending the inauguration and a keynote speech from Rev. Dr. John Walker from the Friendship Church in Henrietta, N.Y.
Walker was a student at the Rochester Divinity School during the race riots in Rochester, N.Y. in 1964. Walker will recall on his own experiences, contextualize the election and inauguration of Barack Obama within the Civil Rights Movement, and reflect on the power of youth in action.
As a local response to the politically-active Geneva youth, a forum will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Geneva Public Library. Titled “Geneva’s Young Voices Speak: A Community Forum,” the discussion will focus on five areas targeted by youth leaders as areas of concern: Safety (including safety on the streets and having a safe place to congregate and to have activities); Recreation (including having things to do and a place in which to do them); Voice (having opportunities to voice concerns and contributions to the community); Mutual respect (with each other, families, school, community people, police); and Transportation (how to get places). The Forum’s panelists include Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein, Ontario County Youth Bureau Director Boys and Girls Club Teen Center Manager Jermaine Phillip, Geneva Recreation Center Director Janelle Toner and several youth from Geneva.
All events are free and open to the public.