Famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once quoted, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” This freedom is something celebrated on Erskine’s campus, especially during times such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Program that was held this past Monday. Combining students, faculty, and even visiting prospective students, a gathering was held in Bowie Chapel to reflect on the life of this courageous and influential man. Listening to songs performed by the EC Gospel Choir and hearing a wonderfully delivered message by local Pastor Kenneth Dean, this celebration proved to be an enjoyable experience for those of all backgrounds.
To me, MLK Day is is a holiday that honors the life of MLK Jr., but also celebrates the progress that has been made after his time of leadership ended. While all prejudices and sterotypes have not been banished yet today, steps have been taken over the past decades to provide more equality. At Erskine, we celebrate this day by being aware of our past but optimistic about our future. By striving to promote diversity among the campus in all aspects of student life, Erskine takes a step in the direction of the equality Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to fighting for.
Following this celebration, I attended a mini-session (one of the many other unique things provided during J-term) whose topic dealt with a conversation about race. Led by the President of Erskine, Associate Director of Admissions, and Director of Campus Life, this session allowed students the opportunity to relax in an open environment in order to discuss the problems presented by racial stereotypes and explore ways in which these can be overcome. Talking openly about these issues in a structured format allowed voices to be heard that would be much quieter in a casual conversation setting. Exploring how far we have come, yet how far we need to go opened my eyes to a new view as I was able to converse with both Caucasian and African American students about what it means to be an individual and what it means to be a part of my own race.
People of all races owe a great deal to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle he endured to help create the America that we see today. As a citizen, I am grateful for the free interaction I can have with people from all backgrounds. As a college student, I am grateful for the diverse group of friends I have formed on this accepting campus. As a prospective teacher, I am grateful for the unique class I will encounter each year. And most importantly, as a human, I am grateful for the everlasting marks and memories that have been placed in my living scrapbook that were made possible by inspriational people like Martin Luther King, Jr.