According to DaVonne Kramer, diverse student programs coordinator, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events appear to have been a success.
“I believe it was a huge success. This was my second time helping to organize and I’ve received a lot of beautiful feedback on how it went,” said Kramer.
Events spread over two days attracted large numbers of student, faculty and community members. Armarlie Grier, a junior on the MLK Day planning committee, was very impressed by the turnout and support.
“I am ecstatic with the amount of people that came out to every event. I feel like 2015 is a new year where we have students being willing to ‘be brave, show grace’ in the midst of Ferguson, and are willing to be lights in the darkness and the darkness cannot put them out. I’m really proud of our students here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the fellowship hall or Church-Chapel that full,” commented Grier.
Kramer was also very impressed by the overall turnout and support from not only the campus, but the Goshen community as well.
The weekend started off with the Voices-N-Harmony Gospel Concert, a very popular and successful event. According to Kramer, the concert was very upbeat and energetic. This style, though rarely seen in the Mennonite community, felt like home to some other students who attended the event.
“The highlight of the weekend for me was the Voices-N-Harmony concert. Their worship style is how I grew up worshipping in the church, and it just felt good to hear gospel music like that here on campus. It made me feel like I was back at home at my church,” said Tyra Carver, a junior.
Monday’s MLK Coffeehouse and Talk-back Session was another hit of the weekend.
“I am so proud of the students who participated in coffeehouse. I participated as well, but I was more excited about seeing underclassmen (and women) take the stage for themselves and show that willingness to be vulnerable,” said Grier.
One of the more inspiring parts of the coffeehouse for Carver was the recitation of MLK’s speech at Morehouse College which was given by Malcolm Stovall, a sophomore.
“I thought Malcolm reciting MLK's speech that was delivered at Morehouse College was very interesting. I thought the crowd seemed to be really into that speech in particular, and I also thought the way Malcolm related it to Goshen College was really powerful,” said Carver.
Arguably the most popular and talked-about event was the 10:00 a.m. convocation with guest speaker Reverend Kanyere Eaton. For Kramer, Eaton was the most memorable part of the weekend.
“Convocation was huge for me. The most powerful moment was the standing ovation for Kanyere. I’m almost at a loss for words [about] how that felt. I know she’s not a Mennonite and she wasn’t sure when I asked her to come, so to see people standing and clapping was such a beautiful thing,” said Kramer. “I loved that Kanyere brought [her] true self. People were laughing and having a good time. It just felt good and that was really cool,” she added later.
“A lot of students never experienced a pastor like Rev. Kanyere Eaton. Her style, charisma, character and just her overall message had a huge impact on the students, and it was good to see students here on campus enjoy a different style of preaching than what they're typically used to,” commented Carver.
Both Kramer and Grier also commented on the amount of people, students especially, that went up to Eaton after the convocation to talk and ask questions.
Grier summed up the weekend by stating, “I saw so much leadership from our first-years and sophomores being willing to be vulnerable about their experiences and wanting to change intercultural relationships—and their voices were heard by our student body. I think we are ready to pursue a future of true intercultural integration. And I’m excited for it.”