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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carls celebrate and discuss Martin Luther King Day

<e of Intercultural and International Life hosted the second annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner Celebration on January 17 in the Goodhue Superlounge. Many from the Carleton community came to join in commemorating Dr. King and remember the hope for change he inspired. Students from the Office of Intercultural and International Life, the Gender & Sexuality Center, Carleton College Men of Color, Coalition of Hmong Students and the Coalition of Women of Color presented reflections, poems, and music to honor the teachings and doctrine of Dr. King. Dr. John Thabiti Willis, Assistant Professor of History, presented the keynote address honoring Dr. King as an ancestor and continuing to strive towards a community that fulfils King’s messages.

“In his dream, Dr. King envisioned for a colorblind society,” said Joy Kluttz, the Director of OIIL. “Tonight, as a community, we can celebrate our many cultures.”

To begin the evening, Shantrice King ’13, president of the Coalition of Women of Color, reflected on the work of Bayard Rustin, one of Dr. King’s most influential and active advisers.

“Bayard Rustin was a gay, black pacifist,” King said. “Without the organization skills of Rustin, the march on Washington may not have happened…. He was the man behind the magic who rocked our nation to its core.”

Next, Marlene Edelstein ’11 gave a reflection on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Dr. King dared to be hopeful, to paint a picture of an ideal world” Edelstein said. “To honor Dr. King, I propose that we dare to dream more today.”

The Carleton College Men of Color presented a spoken poem about heritage and ethnicity. Each group member stepped forward to present verses on their specific background and then the group chanted together, “my origins matter to me.”

The keynote address followed, in which Dr. Willis spoke of how Dr. King’s dream is applicable to our community and our lives today.  He spoke of the need to “cultivate unity in the midst of our differences.” One of Dr. Willis’s main points was how many LGBT students and students of color do not always feel like they are welcomed and accepted. “Our task is to create an environment in which all Carls are honored,” he said, “We have to create a society where all of us can exist.”

Rebecca Song ’11, Vice President of the Coalition of Women of Color, gave a reflection on how China could have been different if it had followed Dr. King’s principles for peace and equality.She cited the Tiananmen Square Tragedy as a source of injustice, but nonetheless a time when people took action against oppression. “I’m sure that I’m not the first to say this, but if it’s unjust, we need to break it and fix it” she suggested as a means to create a healthier society in the midst of China’s government.

The Carleton College Coalition of Hmong Students presented a short skit titled “A Hmong Carol,” an adaptation of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” on the true nature of the Hmong dream.  In the skit, a Hmong student sees his past, present, and future to make him realize how hard his family and ancestors have worked to provide him with a good life. The ending message was that one has to fully appreciate their past to live out a promising future.

The next student reflection was given by Patty Dana ’11 titled “Reconsidering the Dream” which talked about her relationship to activism with the Gender & Sexuality Center on campus in light of the messages from Dr. King’s life.

Stephy Guerro ’11, an Intercultural Peer Leader, shared a poem she wrote in response to Dr. King’s wish for what he wanted read at his funeral.

Finally, Alsa Bruno ’12, an Intercultural Peer Leader, gave a closing reflection on how Dr. King has inspired him. “[Dr. King] has taught me to not only tolerate the differences of others, but to celebrate them,” said Bruno.

Throughout the night, the Superlounge provided a surprisingly ambient setting for the celebration dinner. The previous year the event had been held in Evans Dining Hall, but was moved to the Superlounge this year.

To close the dinner, the Ova Yonder Brass Band performed a lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which had the entire audience singing along, even as they exited the event.

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