Remembering Dr. King event
Ed Rudman – Sports Writer
The Multicultural Center hosted its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance event virtually during Black History Month, this year going by, “Pandemic, Privilege, & Protest”, to tie in the current COVID-19 pandemic; the event took place on Monday, Feb. 8, at 1:00 p.m.
The event featured guest keynote speaker Nyle Fort, a joint Ph.D. candidate in religion and interdisciplinary humanities with a concentration in African American studies at Princeton University, and saw other members of the campus community participate and speak out on racial injustice, including President Bertolino.
“Even if we recognize the central role of African Americans in the United States and in history,” said Bertolino. “I think this is also a time for us to reflect on, to take a stand against the racial injustice, the inequality, the systematic racism that is pervasive in our society and has been laid bare by the ravages of COVID.”
The event kicked off with words from Dian Brown-Albert, coordinator of multicultural student activities, followed by Bertolino, and then went into a commentary of racial injustice throughout history and today from Fort.
Fort began with an anecdote of growing up as a black child during the 90’s and brought up injustices such as Reaganomics and Rodney King to help portray the environment at the time. Fort also talked lengthily about the heightened negative effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the black community in comparison to the white demographic.
“I want us to remember that while the pandemic is unprecedented, that is we’ve never seen anything like this in over a hundred years since the Spanish Flu in the early 1900s, the pandemic is also all too familiar in its consequences,” said Fort. “The CDC, the Center for Disease Control, makes this very clear, black Americans are twice as likely to die of COVID than white Americans and three times more likely to catch COVID.”
Furthering his points, Fort made sure to speak about King and the sacrifices he made in the fight for civil rights. Fort emphasized that the life that King lived is not that of the “lullaby” version students are taught in school during Black History month, but that it was a difficult road and one that should have a light shown upon it.
“He died calling for a revolution of values, he understood that social change involves ethical formation, that is transforming ourselves from the inside as much as it does political struggle,” said Fort. “He knew what I learned in Sunday school that we cannot remake society without transforming ourselves, and that we cannot transform ourselves without remaking society.”
This event is the first of many more to come during Black History month, and all will be looking to further Southern’s campus-wide commitment of ending systematic racism and discrimination, not just that of black people but of all those who have fallen victim, according to Bertolino.
“Dr. King’s vision was that of a nation built on strengths of its diverse peoples, of nation that could only grow stronger by welcoming and utilizing the many gifts of its people,” Bertolino said. “His legacy continues to inspire those of us who care about human dignity. Now more than ever, let us embrace his message and mission, and work towards dismantling systematic racism so that equality and justice might be fully realized for all.”