By: Denisse Villegas ’25

One could not help but feel the spirit of Dr. King’s Beloved Community as 100 faculty, staff, and students of the Lafayette community gathered for the 11th annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon Jan. 24. To celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, Paris Francis ’26 and Ariana Welch ’26, board members from the Association of Black Collegians (ABC), and Monique Brown ’23 and Jada Peters ’24, co-presidents of NIA: Women of Purpose, shared moving remarks. The luncheon featured keynote speaker The Reverend Canon Barbara Harrison Seward as well as President Nicole Hurd and Alex Hendrickson, College chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life.

“His ‘I Have a Dream Speech,’ eloquently delivered August 28 in 1963, touched the hearts of many around the nation and filled our people with hope for a better future. A future in which individuals, regardless of their race or ethnic background, could collaborate with each other peacefully without fear of discrimination or acts of violence . . . We observe this day in order to honor MLK’s resilience and to commemorate his drive for fighting for people like us to live in an ideal world that rightfully values individuals.” – Paris Francis ’26

“We gather today as a community to appreciate the sacrifices that many African American women and men like Martin Luther King Jr. made to achieve an integrated society. Dr. King longed for days like these when my peers and I would be able to go to a campus like Lafayette and beyond.” – Jada Peters ’24

“His legacy is one that reminds me that my faith must be centered in the reality of the lives around me as well as those who are off. His legacy tells me that when I preach hope, I am probably preaching it from a place of privilege because the hope of the privileged is different from the hope of the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized. His legacy reminds me that the fight of every human must be one of dignity. His legacy tells me the danger of remaining silent.” – The Reverend Canon Barbara Harrison Seward, keynote speaker

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