Rise Together! Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

News subtitle

Dartmouth will honor the civil rights leader with a month of activities.

Candlelight march during 2019 MLK celebrations at Dartmouth
Every year, the celebration includes a candlight vigil. (Photo by Eli Burakian)

It’s a new year in a new decade—a good time to “Rise Together!” That’s the theme of Dartmouth’s monthlong Martin Luther King Jr. celebration for 2020.

“In times of change, struggles, anger, oppression, and loss of national unity, it is easy to lose hope and optimism,” says Evelynn Ellis, vice president for institutional diversity and equity.

“As I listen to the news, talk to family, friends and colleagues, I sense a loss of optimism. Difficult times may be frightening and exhausting, but we must not lose hope. These are the times to inspire each other to reach out to our neighbors, even those we disagree with, and push for positive change.” 

The campus celebration begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. employee breakfast at the Hanover Inn, when the featured speaker will be Matthew Delmont, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History. Pre-registration is required. At 5 p.m., a candlelight vigil hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity will start at Cutter-Shabazz house and make its way across the Green.

See a complete listing of Martin Luther King events here.

Speaking of Justice

Kianny Antigua
One of this year’s two keynote speakers is Kianny Antigua, a senior lecturer in Spanish, and a poet, translator, and fiction writer for both children and adults.

One of this year’s two keynote speakers is Kianny Antigua, a senior lecturer in Spanish, and a poet, translator, and fiction writer for both children and adults. Antigua has won many awards, including first place at the International Latino Book Awards for Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book, Bilingual, in 2018. Her work has been published in anthologies, literary magazines, newspapers, and textbooks.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, in Moore Theater at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Antigua will give a talk titled “Of Silence and Words.”

“I want to raise awareness about the things that we don’t say and the things that we’ve been saying, and how narrative is affecting our everyday life,” says Antigua. “We need to talk and think more about how we use social media. We are constantly searching, clicking, through Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, but we rarely pause to think about the context for all that communication—the attitudes that lie behind all those words.”

Civil rights attorney, minister, and Harvard professor Cornell Brooks will give the keynote speech at the Martin Luther King multifaith celebration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26, in Rollins Chapel, hosted by the William Jewett Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life. The Dartmouth Gospel Choir will perform.

Brooks is a professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a visiting professor of the practice of prophetic religion and public leadership at the Harvard Divinity School. He’s a former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Rising Together Through Art and Music

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., there will be a sing-in at the Paddock Music Library. Attendees will sing songs from the American civil rights movement of the 1960s as well as more modern examples of protest music.

New to the MLK celebration this year is a gallery talk at the Hood Museum of Art about works by black artists. The speakers will be Morgan E. Freeman, a Native American art fellow from the Ford Foundation’s and the Walton Family Foundation’s Diversifying Art Museum Initiative, and Thomas Price, curatorial assistant at the Hood.  

The Hopkins Center will shine a spotlight on rarely told stories of incarcerated youth and their families in The Just and the Blind. Composer-violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain and spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, who describe themselves as “fathers of brown sons,” created the multimedia work “in reaction to the tragedies of racial profiling and the prison-industrial complex.”

Dartmouth’s month of commemoration wraps up on Sunday, March 1, with a film at Loew Auditorium in the Black Family Visual Arts Center. Just Mercy is based on a true story about a battle for justice for those wrongly convicted and those who could not afford proper legal representation.

The Geisel School of Medicine will sponsor several events focusing on health equity, including a screening of The Hungry Heart, an award-winning documentary about prescription drug and opiate addition by Vermont filmmaker Bess O’Brien.  

Recognizing Social Justice Leaders

Each year, Dartmouth gives awards honoring members of the College and Upper Valley community who have contributed significantly to social justice, peace, civil rights, education, public health or environmental justice. The presentation and panel discussion will start at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, in Filene Auditorium.

“Our goal throughout the month is to help people understand and appreciate not only historically who Martin Luther King Jr. was, and why we lift him up, but why his vision is still relevant today,” says Rabbi Daveen Litwin, the Tucker Center’s dean and chaplain.

All of the Martin Luther King Jr. events are free and open to the public.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at charlotte.e.albright@dartmouth.edu.

Charlotte Albright