Goshen College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations began this past Saturday.
The slogan for this year’s theme was “Trouble I’ve Seen: Naming the Nightmare, Re-imagining the Dream.” The celebration filled the weekend with a wide spread of activities for students and community members alike.
The weekend began with a few guests including Sofia Samatar, a Goshen College graduate of 1994 and world-renowned science fiction writer.
On Saturday, Samatar gave a public reading that featured excerpts from her novel “A Stranger in Olondria,” another excerpt from the upcoming sequel, a short story titled “How I Met the Ghoul,” and a poem titled “Girl Hours.”
Sunday morning, Drew Hart, a PhD candidate in theology and ethics, spoke at College Mennonite Church during a worship service.
On Sunday evening, Voices-n-Harmony, GC’s gospel choir, hosted special guests at the concert, including members of a church choir from South Bend. This concert was followed by a dessert reception in Umble where students were able to engage in discussion.
The events continued early Monday morning with a community breakfast in the Church-Chapel Fellowship Hall. At the breakfast, Samatar gave a brief presentation on “Broken Glass and Living Otherwise.”
Following the breakfast was the Spoken Word Coffee House, which included readings from Goshen College students.
Regina Shands Stoltzfus, professor in the Bible, religion and philosophy department and peace, justice and conflicts studies department, read work submitted by Dominique Chew, a 2014 Goshen College graduate.
Alma Carillo, a junior, read a piece on how the scars of the past shape the present. At the end of her reading, she challenged the audience to make a difference and to persevere even if it seems as though the rest of society is on standby.
Malcolm Stovall, a junior, read a piece by Malcolm X called “Between the World and Me,” which is about identity. He also touched on his perspective of identity and race.
Gabby Williams, a junior, read her poem on the challenges of gender, race and equality titled “What if I am a Black Woman?”
Nathan Orr, a junior, shared a story about forgiveness, and he also concluded by making a statement that in order to move forward in this age, there is more power in forgiveness than resentment.
“Being able to share such a special story on Martin Luther King Day was an honor to me,” he said. “Nothing but gratitude comes to my mind when I think about sharing a valuable lesson about forgiving others.”
After the Coffee House, guests were invited to make their way to the Church-Chapel to attend convocation, led by guest speaker Drew Hart.
Hart touched on a few point throughout his presentation, some of which included his views on white supremacy. He mentioned and briefly spoke about an optimistic dream of segregating culture known as a “heroic redemption.”
Hart noted during his speech that there is truly one race—the human race—but he was also clear that race is a social reality, and so the effects of racism are real and still occurring.
On Monday afternoon, Samatar led a workshop titled “Regeneration: Imagining Black Futures,” where she discussed Afrofuturism, a genre in the arts that speculates on what future African cultures might look like.
The final event of the weekend was the “Town Hall Meeting: GC Campus Climate,” a talk-back session led by Goshen College staff members and students.