Imagine. Listen. Hope. Radford University honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Let us keep going toward the goal of selfhood, toward the realization of the dream of brotherhood. Toward the realization of the dream of understanding goodwill. We must keep moving. We must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Testaments to the lasting legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. filled Bondurant Auditorium in Preston Hall on Jan. 21 as part of Radford University’s MLK Commemorative Program.
A day of service to honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Every year the Radford University community comes together to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said LaShan Lovelace, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). “The sixth annual MLK Day of Service sponsored by [CDI] was an amazing experience, and all volunteers demonstrated Highlander pride through [their] service and good deeds.”
A central part of the program was the first-ever MLK Day of Service Award, an award that honors a student for their dedication to the community, the classroom and each other. Out of the 235 students considered for the award, Paul Aboagye, a senior computer science major from Alexandria, Virginia, was the inaugural recipient.
The keynote speaker was Marc Lamont Hill, professor of Media Studies & Production and Media & Communication at Temple University, and he delivered his talk on the creating a lasting legacy in uncertain times.
The keys, Hill said, are radical imagination, listening and hope.
“History is not changed by the person with the microphone,” Hill said. “[Or] the person who is the president, CEO or the chair. History is made by the tens of thousands of people whose names never get printed in the newspaper, who never get a microphone, who never get the attention…they never got named, but they understood that their work was bigger than the attention.”
Hill said that so many people leave when they do not get their way.
“Let us not forget that the lesson of King is that when you do the work of freedom and justice and truth telling, you are often going to find yourself alone,” Hill said. “If you are doing the work of freedom, don’t be afraid to be alone…If everybody is like you, if everybody agrees with you, you are probably doing something wrong…history will vindicate you.”
Hill also urged attendees to be extraordinary.
“The event making person is not someone who wound up in the throes of history but someone who through their own talent, through their own commitment, through their own ability, through their own genius, through their courage is able to produce a new kind of history,” Hill said. “Dr. King, perhaps more than any American ever born on these shores, is someone who represents the event-making person. King was extraordinary.”
Being involved in the community is a pillar of King’s lasting legacy and is something that the Radford family has taken to heart.
Earlier on Monday Jan. 21, from a record 420 volunteer sign-ups, more than 350 students, faculty and staff joined the Day of Service activities in advance of the opening of Radford’s 2019 Spring Semester on a frigid morning. Volunteers were in locations throughout the New River and Roanoke valleys – all indoors – to give back to those in need. President Hemphill joined the Radford family in giving back to the local community helping support the Women's Resource Center, one of 18 local organizations and sites that received volunteers.
“The campus community being dedicated to honor the legacy of Dr. King and committed to investing and honoring our community suggests that you all are not a one-day-a-year university when it comes to service,” Hill said. “That’s something that reflects not only your commitment, but also your extraordinary leadership. You have a [university] president who believes in service, who believes in justice [and] who believes in creating a loving community."
Radford students, faculty and staff joined Lead Teacher Betty Metzler’s pre-school class at the Radford Learning Center for an afternoon of engaging with the very young. Metzler said it was nice to have extra help so the eager 3-year-olds in her class could get valuable individual attention and adult interaction.
“I love making people happy, and I have enjoyed seeing the smiles these kids share when they play,” said Brian Henry, a senior economics and finance major from Arlington, as he watched Oliver and Wesley, his tablemates, assemble boats with multi-colored sticky blocks. “Helping others helps the world and me too.”
Henry, who worked through the between-semester holiday break and completed an online accounting course, called the volunteer experience at the Early Learning Center a way to reorient himself for the upcoming semester.
“Working with the little kids and seeing their eagerness and openness is a nice way for me to get ready for the challenge of a full semester of five classes,” Henry said.
Kavon Lawson, a sophomore sports administration major from Norfolk, was also counting on the Day of Service to get the academic semester off to a good start.
“Getting involved like this is different aspect of school and my education,” said Lawson, who was supervising the Play-Doh table. “It is great to give back and be a role model, plus it brings back memories of when I was this age.”
Pleasant memories were a heart-warming part of the experience for Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Danny Kemp, who was surrounded by eager listeners as he read to them.
“It is always rewarding to give back by helping out,” Kemp said. “It brings back many fond memories of my own children when they were growing up.”