College honors legacy, life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

39th annual Martin Luther King Jr Celebration

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the joyous voices of the Morgan State University Choir filled Christ Chapel, students, faculty, and Gettysburg College leaders joined members of the Adams County community Jan. 21 to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration recognized King’s triumphs in the fight for Civil Rights. Keynote speaker History and Africana Studies Prof. Scott Hancock framed his remarks against the backdrop of King’s enduring words.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice,” King said in a 1967 speech.

Hancock asked the audience to repeatedly say the phrase in unison, adding: “The question, then, is not do you have power—because, college educated or not, you do—but how you’re going to use it. What will you commit to do with it?”

Choir singing at the Martin Luther King Jr Celebration

View photos of the event on Flickr

Watch a livestream of the event

College leaders echoed Hancock’s core message to do right, regardless of the cost. It’s a quality Dr. King exemplified in his lifetime.

“From 1957 to 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled more than six million miles and spoke over 2,500 times to advocate for freedom, justice, and racial equality,” wrote Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, president of Gettysburg College, in a message to students ahead of the event. “As we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, consider how we can advance this vital unfinished work.”

“Scott’s words were a very powerful call to action. Each one of us must identify the concrete steps we will take in our daily lives to advocate for a more just, equitable, and racism-free society,” said Chief Diversity Officer Jeanne J. Arnold. “Dr. King’s legacy provides us with excellent examples of how we can continue this vital work.”

Monday’s ceremony also recognized members of the community whose work advances equality. David Crowner, a retired professor of German, received the Living the Dream Award, presented jointly by the YWCA of Gettysburg and United Way of Adams County.

A free-will offering was taken to support the work of the Adams County Career Aid Project. Musical guests included the Biglerville High School Jazz Band, led by Rei Phillippi; The Chamber Chorale of the Gettysburg Children’s Choir under the direction of Prof. Brent C. Talbot, and the Morgan State University Choir, directed by Eric Conway.

In 2020, a 40th Anniversary Celebration is planned for the Majestic Theater. “We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Featuring Damien Sneed” is set for Jan. 25 next year at 7:30 p.m.