Time has come to pursue the dream

By Katie Cantrell

Transcript Correspondent


With our nation torn by divisiveness, college students today, more than ever, must embrace courage and be driven by a “fierce urgency” to stand up and speak out for equality for all Americans

That message was the central theme of keynote speaker Korie L. Edwards, an associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, at Ohio Wesleyan’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday.

The Pursuing the Dream event was the beginning of a plan to celebrate MLK’s legacy annually, with multicultural students leading the way, said Juan Armando Rojas Joo, OWU’s associate dean for diversity and inclusion. He welcomed students to the observance, which ran from noon to 1 p.m. on the third floor of Merrick Hall.

The celebration kicked off with a performance by OWU’s Gospel Lyres, singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Edwards began her speech with one of the most repeated lines of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he gave on Aug. 28, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. before a massive group of civil rights marchers.

“I have a dream that little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers,” King had said.

While Edwards repeated many of King’s quotes, the perplexities in the joining hands line have become the essence of the entire speech, Edwards said.

“Somehow, I have a dream has morphed into simply a call for diversity,” Edwards said.

King began to follow that stirring at age 26, when he became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in 1955, Edwards said, in conclusion.

“Perhaps today you have a fierce urgency stirring in you that the moment is now,” she said. “My hope is you won’t allow that fire to die, but that you will seize your moment, your fierce urgency in now to speak, to stand, to fight for love and truth.”

OWU junior Aliyah Owens introduced the speaker.

“She speaks in a way that is understandable to everyone, but she presents these complex ideas that you learn so much from in such a way that doesn’t feel overloading and doesn’t feel unreachable,” Owens said.

OWU Juniors Hope Lopez and Mukami Wamalwa along with sophomore Anna duSaire also said they enjoyed Edwards’ speech.

“I thought it was really informative and it explained a lot of things step-by-step, or it like unfolded a lot things that I didn’t really think about critically (before),” Lopez said.

Wamalwa said Edwards explained many concepts well.

“Like especially when it came down to white supremacy and white hegemony and like kind of breaking those down and understanding how one can lead to the other and how they kind of contribute to each other,” Wamalwa said.

The speech helped duSaire put things in context.

“I thought it was really thought provoking,” she said. “It really made me think about things I see on campus and things I’ve experienced in my life and how that relates to our history and how these patterns are still continuing, so I thought it was really good.”

Rojas Joo said his favorite quote was ‘I have a dream.’

“Why? Because I do have a dream. I do have the dream that we can become very inclusive at Ohio Wesleyan,” he said.

OWU’s MLK committee scheduled Edwards a year in advance to secure her as a guest speaker, Rojas Joo said.

Students will be even more involved in planning activities and speakers for future MLK celebrations at OWU.

“We want to integrate some of the Ohio Wesleyan students into the MLK committee,” Rojas Joo said.

Traveling in the steps of MLK will be a new option for students

Updated April 24, 2019

By Shay Manuela

Transcript correspondent


Next Spring, Ohio Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to literally walk in the footsteps of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

John Durst, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, and Professor of Education Paula White will be teaching a travel-learning course in Spring 2020.

The course, which is titled “The March Continues: The Current Fight for Justice and Equality,” will examine the civil rights movement through the lenses of social justice and activism.

A special focus will be placed on understanding the historical, cultural, economic, and political dynamics of inequality and the concepts of power, privilege, and intersectionality, according to the Ohio Wesleyan website.

Class members will be traveling to Mississippi and Alabama from March 7-14, 2020, where they will visit several sites along the National Civil Rights Trail. The trail, which spans across fourteen states, features locations that played a significant role in events of the Civil Rights Era.

The civil rights movement was a mass protest movement against racial segregation and discrimination in the southern United States, according to Britannica. The primary goal of the movement, that mainly took place during the 1950s and 1960s, was for African-Americans to gain equal rights under the constitution.

Sites that will be visited along the trail include the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began his pastorate; the Rosa Parks Museum; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a memorial dedicated to victims of white supremacy.

One of the goals is for students to draw parallels between race relations of the past and present, Durst said.

“We look at these civil right struggles and racial tensions as something of the past, yet striking similarities remain evident today,” Durst said. “One could argue that since the civil rights movement ended, there has been a lack of progress. The story is not over.”

The desire lies in getting that point across, Durst said. “This course gives the opportunity to use history to ask students ‘this is what the racial disparity represented back then—how much farther are we today?’,” Durst said.

The main motivation for the course is to have the students feel the history, rather than just learning it, Durst said.

“I am a firm believer that when you stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where nonviolent activists were beaten, it has an impact beyond simply reading a factual recollection of it,” Durst said.

The concept of travel-learning courses has been designed to give students the opportunity to connect classroom instruction to real-world experiences.

Merrick Mentor and junior Brandon Stevens said, “The travel-learning courses offer a guided experience to students to dig deeper into a topic with somebody who is an expert on the subject.”

Applications for the Spring 2020 travel-learning courses will be posted at the beginning of the Fall semester.