University Celebrates Vision of ‘Beloved Community’ at MLK Breakfast
In his historic 1957 “Birth of a New Nation” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that choosing nonviolence would lead to the creation of “the beloved community.”
That vision of a just society, one that would not tolerate racism or poverty, was the focus of UT Dallas’ recent Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast to honor the civil rights leader.
Guest speaker the Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters, founder and senior pastor of Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Dallas, reflected on King’s vision of the beloved community 60 years later. Waters serves as chairman of the board of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Dallas.
“How do we build a beloved community?” Waters asked the audience of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Student Union. “We build a portion of that community every time we refuse to laugh at a racist joke.
“How do we build a beloved community? We do so when we stand up for the poor and vulnerable of our community,” he continued.
“How do we build a beloved community? At the ballot box. We also build it in the streets. We build it by recognizing that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We do so when we make space and room for each other to live, thrive and grow and when we see our successes inescapably hewn together with the success of those who are around us.”
The program featured a mix of student, staff and faculty speakers and presenters including Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president; Dr. George Fair, vice president of the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies; and event emcee Arthur Gregg, assistant vice president for multicultural affairs and director of the Multicultural Center. Melody Jackson, an emerging media and communications senior, started the program by singing “Amazing Grace.”
The event ended with the reading of a litany by Karen Stepherson, study abroad coordinator at the University’s International Center. Matt Johns, assistant director of LGBT+ programs at the Galerstein Women’s Center, read from the piece, called “Martin’s Beloved Community.” Members of the audience received copies of the reading with parts to say aloud as a group.
“In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we will rise above our personal concerns and make a commitment to work to contribute to the betterment of society at large and within the communities in which we live,” the audience read aloud before the ceremony ended. “We are the beloved community.”
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