Campus celebrates MLK Jr.’s birthday

Jen Woytovich

On the third Monday of every January, schools, government agencies and private organizations pay tribute to the life and dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. This year the University dedicated the entire week of Jan. 22 in remembrance of this influential civil rights leader. The Center for Peace and Justice and Campus Ministry organized and sponsored the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Celebration of 2005. This tribute consisted of a series of workshops and projects dedicated to servicing philanthropic organization and educating students on the civil rights movement.

On Saturday, Jan. 22, there was a “Capitol Hill Advocacy Training Workshop” where staff members from the National Catholic Social Justice lobby agency advised University students on how they might effectively lobby for a particular cause in Washington.

On Tuesday, there was a screening of the 1965 film “The Battle of Algiers.” This film addresses issues of European colonization throughout Africa and the fight of the Algerian people to rule themselves. The film is interesting in that it shows the Algerian people using primitive means of fighting against the more powerful French army. Regardless of the unlikelihood of their victory, the Algerians fought tirelessly and made endless sacrifices in the name of freedom and for the opportunity to govern their native country.

“It isn’t the kind of film that I would watch for entertainment, but it was informative nonetheless,” senior Ryan Fischer said. “I think it’s a good thing that the school is making the effort to recognize King and his contributions by non-traditional means such as historic films and community service.”

Wednesday’s activity was dedicated to the actual story and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Associate professor Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. of Princeton University was this year’s keynote speaker.

The celebration and remembrance continued into Thursday as students and faculty made themselves available in the Connelly Center to address issues and answer questions regarding social justice. Also in the Connelly Center, faculty members and students volunteered themselves to package 1,000 bagged lunches to be distributed through the “Aids for Friends” foundation. These lunches will be served primarily to the elderly.

The University law school also coordinated events and projects in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr.  On Jan. 17, law students and faculty members used their time off from classes to provide services to the community. Activities included working at a food bank and painting a school. Students also participated in discussions in a town hall meeting. The dialogue consisted of personal experiences and legal issues surrounding civil rights and social justice.

On Jan. 19, Professor James Foreman of Georgetown University Law School also offered a speech at the Villanova University Law School. He addressed issues surrounding the evolution of race and class throughout the century.

The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is no longer about color, race, religion, or the United States. The impact of his work has affected the world and has influenced people to fight for equality and human rights in places like Africa, South America and perhaps even the Middle East. The American way of thinking is rooted in the actions, words and dreams of Dr. King.