A Day of Reading and Reflection

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin resonate as strongly today as they did when first written or spoken. At Ursinus, they were heard loud and clear during an IIE read-in event.

Members of the campus community were invited to the Institute for Inclusion and Equity in Wismer Center to read, listen and reflect on speeches, letters and written works, including King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, I’ve Been to the Mountaintop and Beyond Vietnam, and Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village and The Price of the Ticket.

The event was part of the college’s inaugural MLK Week, which began Jan. 15 as 100 Ursinus students joined 150,000 volunteers for a day of service in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s a really good way to kick off the semester and to kick off a whole new era with the Institute for Inclusion and Equity,” Robin Gow ’18 said.

Throughout the day, faculty, staff and students were encouraged to look through each of the iconic works to find a few sentences or paragraphs that spoke to them and record a short video while reading aloud to their peers. They were also encouraged to select from other works they admired or wanted to share.

Whether camera-shy or public-speaking pros, participants brought energy and passion to the words from decades past.

MLK Week activities also include a series of talks by faculty members, a screening of the film Selma, musical performances and Common Intellectual Experience events, in addition to the prominently-displayed words of African American artists, writers, activists and performers all over campus.

“I think these programs are especially important to not only remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., but also as a reminder of how we should function as humans,” said Patrick Robinson, assistant director of inclusion and equity. “As divisive as things are currently in our social climate, I think it’s important that we take this time to remember Dr. King’s legacy and to just remember the work that he did and to see how relevant it is now.

Robinson added that as a community, we should view King’s legacy “as a foundation for us to take that next step and to keep adding to that and be a positive influence to the world to build not only the community at large, but also to make the Ursinus community that much of a stronger place.” –By Mary Lobo’15