January 18th marked the annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Jr.) this year. Washington Adventist University’s Center of Student Life and Athletic Department sponsored an MLK Jr. Commemoration event, the virtual program taking place over Zoom. Given the pandemic, the annual MLK Jr. Prayer Breakfast could not be held because of social distancing restrictions. Still, our WAU leaders were determined to continue our tradition in honoring and highlighting Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy.
The keynote speaker for the MLK Jr. Commemoration was the Vice President for Student Life at the University of Alabama, Dr. Myron Pope. He is the first African American to be appointed to that role and one of the only 15 members of the federally appointed ‘400 Years of African American History Commission.’ He encouraged viewers to use their circumstances to strive to “build roads for others,” as Dr. King did, towards his vision of a better future. “We must embrace this role and create the world that he envisioned while continuing to be the next generation of Moses’ because there are many roads that need to be built for our children and our children’s children.”
Dr. Ralph Johnson, the Vice President of the WAU Center of Student Life, was honored to present Ms. Claudia Allen with the inaugural “Drum Major for Justice” award as its first recipient. Ms. Allen is the Online Content Manager at Message Magazine and an international public speaker, writer, and social justice advocate. She shared powerful words with the attendees, affirming that the force for change comes with the language we use. “This is our time, to stand as the greats before, not to cower in the face of destruction, but stand and oppose our collective enemy intent on the destruction of humanity,” she said. “We must speak with the healing, reconciling, inclusive, liberating speech of Jesus Christ causing humanity to remember what God sounds like….”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963