Candlelight vigil honors memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; photo gallery

A candlelight vigil on the steps of Gettysburg College's Musselman Library honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18.

"Dr. King's relevance did not disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, his passion did not die with him on the balcony, and the significance of his message did not dwindle after he had a dream," Lawrese Brown, Class of 2010, said in an address to the audience.

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. adamantly believed that ‘life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?'" said Brown, who created her own individual major, Writing for Public Policy. (The full text of her speech is below.)

Dozens attended the event sponsored for the second year in a row by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha (APA).

The program also included a powerful performance of "We Shall Overcome" by music education major Leroy Smith, Class of 2012, a prayer by campus Chaplain Joseph Donnella, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" led by math Prof. Lynnell Matthews, a reading by APA member Wayne Chang Jr., Class of 2011, and a reading by the Black Student Union executive team, Unique Patterson, Terena McLorn, and Christine Crayton, all Class of 2010.

"We may not be able to mobilize people the way Martin Luther King Jr. did," Chang said, "but I hope we will be able to empower, love, and serve people."

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With some 2,500 students, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Jim Hale, online content editor

MLK Vigil Speech
Jan. 18, 2010
by Lawrese Brown, Class of 2010

Today, we do not celebrate Dr. King because he was a perfect man; but we celebrate Dr. King because he was a purposeful one. His life was defined by his commitment to a cause greater than himself, and his legacy constructed by his devotion to the struggle of oppressed peoples.  

While Dr. King will always undoubtedly be remembered as a great leader of the Civil Rights Movement, he by no means fought the titanic injustice of oppression and immense atrocity of illicit inequality alone. Great leaders understand that "they light their candles from the torches of the people." It would be a disservice to celebrate Dr. King without recognizing the labor, effort, and actions of those that followed. Though many may go unnamed, we pray their irrevocable resolve and unfaltering faith never go unrecognized.

Dr. King's relevance did not disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, his passion did not die with him on the balcony, and the significance of his message did not dwindle after he had a dream. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. adamantly believed that "life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?"  He understood that all men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

We must all heed the responsibility and the call to action in which Dr. King and other leaders have asked. Today as we face new plights of injustice, we need to challenge ourselves to take a stance and encourage ourselves to evolve. Dr. King chose to use non-violence and peaceful protests because he knew combating violence against violence would only fuel the hatred. He said, "Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence." Hatred erodes a man's character and destroys his spirit, it is through love and peace that we evolve.

Coretta Scott King, Dr. King's late wife, too comprehended the capacity of hatred.  She said, "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."  Thus, as we continue forward, let us remember that our value is established in our actions and our respect is earned through our honesty. Let our intentions speak of integrity and our expectations keep faith in humanity.

 On Sunday, President Obama spoke of Dr. King and his legacy at the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church.  While delivering his sermon, he took a moment to acknowledge his own failures and the people's disappointment in America's slow economic and political reform. "I know people can feel down about the way things are going sometimes here in Washington. I know it's tempting to give up on the political process. But ... Progress is possible." President Obama understands that in tenuous times, faith may falter and doubts may develop, but just like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  he knows that, "Change does not roll in on wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."

Thank you.

Posted: Tue, 19 Jan 2010

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