About 300 individuals participated in the University of Redlands Peace Walk, one of several events held to honor the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students, faculty, staff, and members of the Redlands community gathered on the Quad, including representatives of campus academic clubs, social organizations, and Bulldog Athletics. The University’s beloved bulldog mascot, George Willis, also came out to enthusiastically trot alongside walkers for the event.
Hosted by the U of R MLK Steering Committee, comprised of Redlands students and faculty, the theme of the week was “The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right,” reflecting Dr. King’s own words during speeches, including one given at Stanford University in 1967. MLK spoke at a number of universities throughout his life as a civil rights leader, emphasizing the power of students and youth to create change in their community and the world.
President Krista Newkirk and Johnston Center Operations Specialist Maggie Ruopp (read Maggie's speech here) started the event with speeches about the work and messages of King.
Students from Renee Van Vechten’s Intro to American Politics class read aloud lines from some of King’s most notable speeches, followed by a performance from the Redlands Chapel Singers to start the Peace Walk. The group stopped once in Hunsaker Plaza to sing and took a moment to share reflections on the message of the event. At the end of the walk, Erin Sanborn, director of Student Involvement Services (SIS) and the Sustainable University of Redlands Farm (SURF) was one of a few individuals who talked about the mission of the Student Food Pantry, inviting participants in the Peace Walk to enjoy food prepared with pantry and SURF ingredients by Harvest Table dining services at the U of R. Bishop Jackie Green from the Redlands Second Baptist Church gave closing remarks about King’s work and the importance of peace in all our communities.
Later in the week, the Center for Educational Justice hosted an open dialogue Zoom event to discuss the teachings of King and author bell hooks’ on the topic of building loving communities within the education system. Taking inspiration from the two activists’ words on loving and listening to one another, educators talked through some of the challenges of reaching others with both commonalities and differences, and how to build communities of respect. The discussion primarily focused on what it means to build a community, and offered new approaches to teaching and communicating in a way that respects the individuality of each person.
Community Service Learning hosted the annual Luminaria Ceremony at the Hunsaker Plaza fountain as the final event of the week. Students, faculty, and community members were invited and encouraged to write down their hopes and dreams for the future, inspired by King's famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Tutors and tutees from Jasper’s Corner read aloud a children’s book, and participants of the ceremony were encouraged to share their dreams at a microphone near the display. These aspirations written on paper bags were placed around the fountain and lit with small lights inside to symbolize the building of a brighter future.
Participants noted the event ended the week with optimism, sending the community off with hopefulness for growth and change to come.
Monday, January 16 marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday in honor of the birth of celebrated civil-rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was born 1929. He grew up to become a Baptist minister and later became involved in the American Civil Rights movement, giving speeches and encouraging peaceful protests to fight for equality.