Claremont Commemorates M.L.K.

The Claremont Colleges honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. through various
events and activities from Jan. 22 to Jan. 29 that culminated in a keynote address from nationally renowned journalist and activist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. 

The series
of events was put
together by the
Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee, which began meeting in early October to
discuss plans and secure speakers. Draper Center Director Maria Tucker was
a member of the committee and helped secure Lamont Hill as the keynote
speaker. Hill has won numerous awards as a journalist, academic and social justice
activist and was named one of America’s 100 Most Influential Black Leaders by Ebony
Magazine in 2011 and 2014.

Tucker acknowledged that she felt “a greater sense
of responsibility” in her work on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities this year, in light of current
events such as the Ferguson verdict and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I wanted to
find a speaker who would really resonate with students at this critical
moment,” Tucker said.

The keynote speech in Scripps College’s Garrison Theater was delivered Jan. 29 to an audience of over 500 people from the Claremont Colleges
and the greater Los Angeles area, and received two standing
ovations. Juan Jaramillo PO ’18, who attended the speech, said that Hill urged young people to take the reins instead of simply
asking others to change. 

Jaramillo added that
he was inspired by Hill’s affirmation of the
interconnectedness between different
social movements.

“[Hill] said
that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to causes directly related to ourselves,”
Jaramillo said. “Black
rights, Chicano rights, queer rights … they’re all interconnected.”

Scripps Associate Dean of Students Samuel Haynes wrote in an email to TSL that Hill was an “outstanding
speaker.”

“[His] message to
young people to get involved and fight together for like cause was strong and
well received,” Haynes wrote. “I, as a member of the MLK Committee and more
importantly as one of many people at Scripps College as this year’s host
college, was very excited and proud about the large turn out and the memorable
experience all who attended received.”

Other events and
activities leading up to the talk included a film screening, a human rights
fair, a community service opportunity and a talk at Claremont McKenna College’s Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

Kirsten
Laufenberg, Pitzer College director of residence life and summer programs and a member of the Commemoration Committee, co-organized the human rights fair and panel discussion
Jan. 23 at Pitzer. The panel,
which was made up of a diverse group of local professionals, brought together speakers with a shared passion for human rights.

The panel stressed that community service work is
easily accessible
to 5C students.

“As Martin
Luther King, Jr. said, the struggle for human rights can’t be the struggle of a
single group,” Laufenberg said. “There’s no point in everyone fighting independently
when there is so much common ground between us.”

Laufenberg
also noted that many of the panelists spoke to and interacted with one another during the discussion. 

“It was as much a learning experience for the speakers as it was for
those who attended,” she said. 

Students were able to put these various calls to
action to the test during the fourth annual Day
of Service, which was organized by the
Office of Chaplains. This event allowed students to volunteer for one of
four off-campus community service projects.

Seth Rushton,
the community service coordinator at the Office of the Chaplains, wrote in an email
to TSL that the event was overwhelmingly
successful, both in terms of turnout and impact. Not only did the service projects create an “undeniable positive good” to those who benefited from the work, he wrote that it made a
valuable impression on the students themselves.

“Community
service works wonders in terms of popping the oft-alluded-to bubble that
surrounds college campuses,” Rushton wrote. “We hoped to remind students of the
vast world just beyond the reach of the Claremont Colleges.” 

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