In the 42 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, his message of peace and anti- war sentiment has been an inspiration to many Americans. King opposed any war that took away valuable resources that could go toward improving the social welfare of this country. He said, “A nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Alejandra Molina, director of intercultural affairs at HWS, is one of several people at Hobart and William Smith who are organizing a four-day celebration of peace around MLK day, using his message as inspiration for revisiting American ideals of peace.
“As Americans, we have a duty not to forget our responsibility to foster peaceful relations and to incorporate, and reflect upon, King’s vision of peace through non-violent action in our lives,” says Molina.
The HWS celebration titled “A Time to Break the Silence: Dr. King’s Vision of Peace” kicks off on Wednesday, Jan. 20, joining the 40 Days of Peace National Initiative. This year, the national campaign will run for six weeks beginning on the nationally celebrated Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 18. The national group is compiling a slideshow that brings together individuals, families, community organizations, neighborhoods and law enforcement agencies to promote a greater cooperation and a sustainable reduction in violence in our communities.
Hobart and William Smith have teamed up with this initiative to provide the campus community with helpful encouragement to remember and create peace. Each day the monitors in the Scandling Campus Center will include famous activists’ quotes and his or her view of peace, coupled with 40 Days of Peace’s “daily deed.” On each slide will be an e-mail; HWS community members will have the option to write down their pledge for peace and have it viewed alongside the quotes.
On Thursday, Jan. 21, there will be a musical performance in Saga at 6 p.m. Jalisa Whitley ’11 will sing “Happy Birthday” in honor and remembrance of Dr. King, accompanied by Saga employees Lisa Gibson on piano and vocals and Joe Calabrese on bass guitar and drums in a celebration of Civil Rights songs.
Special guest and award-winning dancer Thomas Warfield will hold an interactive discussion on campus about peace and the importance of Dr. King’s anti-war speech at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22 in the Vandervort Room. Warfield is the founder and artistic director of PeaceArt International and director of dance and faculty member at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y. He is the director of the RIT / NTID Dance Company, associate director of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre at the New York Institute of Dance, and the vocal soloist at Unity Church. His discussion will incorporate audience members and dancers from the HWS community. He has raised thousands of dollars for efforts to foster peace and has won many awards for his involvement with community service and peace initiatives.
In addition, in honor of King’s commitment to service, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) is organizing weekend opprtunities for service projects. Throughout the weekend, members of the HWS community will donate their time and services to local religious communities in keeping with the theme of peace. They will also work on projects directed toward relief efforts in Haiti.
On Saturday, the celebration of peace will end, most fittingly, with a time to reflect on the messages of peace espoused by King and embraced by all who participated in the events of the previous three days. Ven. Tenzin Yignyen, scholar in residence at HWS and a Tibetan Buddhist monk ordained by the Dalai Lama, will hold a meditation on peace. The meditation will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Wasey Room lobby in the Scandling Campus Center.
The events are being organized by the Office of Intercultural Affairs in collaboration with Religious Life, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, Dining Services, Instructional Technology, Student Activities and the President’s Commission on Inclusive Excellence.