By Jeffrey Moore, Contributing Writer
Opportunities abound to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend as two speakers, Dr. Wilbert Smith, an award-winning filmmaker, and Dana Johnson, a novelist, visit the college to participate in a weekend of activities.
Sophia Metzger, chair of the MLK committee, said that “Goshen College has a commitment to social justice. With the example of Dr. King we are compelled to cater ways that are relevant and speak to the issues of today.”
With that in mind, Goshen College has expanded the Monday holiday into a weekend full of events focused on MLK.
The weekend includes a fiction reading by Johnson on Saturday evening, several viewings of Dr. Smith’s documentary “Hole in the Head: A Life Revisited,” two intensive one-credit-hour courses, a coffee house, a community luncheon, a performance by Parables and an environmental justice workshop in addition to the special convocation on Monday morning.
Dr. Smith’s documentary explores the long history of medical experimentation on African-Americans by following the life of an Indiana native who was left with deformities after being subjected to radiation experiments as a child. As an introduction, Smith said that this documentary is about the “power of the human spirit.”
It is the story of Vertus Hardiman who, in Smith’s words, “did not allow a medical experiment that took place when he was five years old dictate his life. He instead chose to live life on his terms.”
The documentary will introduce the topics of health care, race relations and forgiveness. Smith will lead a discussion on these issues following a screening of the documentary in Umble Center at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
He will also be a featured speaker at convocation.
Dana Johnson, an award winning author from Los Angeles, will read some excerpts of her work on Saturday evening as well as sign copies of her books Elsewhere, California and Break Any Woman Down .
Monday morning will give Johnson another chance to read some of her work, but most of her contribution to the weekend comes in the form of a writing workshop.
The college offers two one-credit-hour courses this weekend. One is a writing workshop led by Johnson; the other is a PJCS course called Conversations on Race taught by Regina Shands Stoltzfus.
Monday is full of possibilities for conversation and reflection on PJCS issues.
Goshen students, faculty, staff and some community members will share original poetry in a spoken word coffeehouse prior to chapel.
The special convocation, led by Dr. Smith, follows, and those with advanced tickets will attend the community luncheon from 11:30 to 2:00pm.
Finally, a workshop about MLK and environmental justice will take place in Newcomer center at 2:00.
Johnson will read some of her work and sign books in Newcomer Center 7 p.m. Friday.