On the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in conjunction with the Geneva community will honor the legacy of the civil rights leader on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. As part of a national day of recognition led by the National Civil Rights Museum, the local event is organized by Alpha Phi Alpha, Hobart’s chapter of the first fraternity for African American men, and Associate Vice President of Campus Life and Dean of Students Montrose Streeter.
“A lot of the issues for which Dr. King lived and died are still relevant 50 years later and we must ask where we go from here,” says Streeter. “Hopefully we are compelled to take up the torch and continue to work together as a community toward a more equitable and just world.”
With a welcome from Mt. Olive Pastor Rev. Donald Golden, the Geneva service will include a keynote address titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” from Assistant Professor of Political Science and Co-Chair of Africana Studies Justin Rose, whose work focuses primarily on the impact of King’s life. The April 4 service will also include excerpts from three of King’s speeches and several of his favorite hymns.
“We are currently being challenged to think about how we, as a nation, define greatness,” says Rose. “Dr. King called upon us to define greatness in terms of how well we come together to defeat what he called the triple evils: racism, materialism and militarism. Thus, when gauging progress for people of color and other marginalized communities, we must acknowledge that we have made many strides as a nation. However, in many ways, we are further away from King’s vision of greatness.”
Remarks will also be offered by Geneva NAACP President Lucile Mallard L.H.D.’15, Rev. James H. Adams of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and representatives from the African American Men’s Association as well as Alpha Phi Alpha.
“The 50th anniversary makes me understand that our heroes only become more important and relevant with time,” says Alpha Phi Alpha President Sadeek Walker ’18, a political science major. “In my early college years, I came to realize that Dr. King is arguably the most important American leader of the 20th century. Growing up, I understood Dr. King as a civil rights hero, but within the past few years, I’ve come to understand his role as a global leader.”
“We all have issues that drive us, and so we must work to correct the various forms of structural injustice that speak to our specific passions, strengths and structural privileges,” says Rose. “Whatever our chosen role, no matter how big or small, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we all have the power to facilitate positive change.”
Mt. Olive Church is located at 70 Clark St. A reception will be held following the service in Fellowship Hall. All are welcome.