Tuesday, Feb. 18 was a special night for the Wheaton community, as faculty, staff and students rallied together in Weber Theater at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Celebration event. Dedicated to social progress, activism and the power of our voices in the fight against oppression, the night not only retrospectively covered the King’s legacy, but also the achievements of influential figures on the Wheaton campus. After President Hanno delivered an opening address, the aforementioned achievements were recognized as awards were given out in the first portion of the evening.
Before the headlining MLK Legacy awards were handed out, the Creative Showcase finalists were given an opportunity to share their works with the audience. These students discussed their art, which ran the gamut from musical pieces to screenplays, and were recognized for the manner in which their work promoted King’s ideas of justice and equity. After that, the prestigious MLK Legacy awards were presented, with one faculty recipient and one student recipient. Shaya Gregory-Poku, Dean for Equity, Social Justice and Community Impact, was honored with the faculty award, while Lindsey Lorine ’20 was honored with the student award.
“Our respective achievements are to leave Wheaton better than when we found it,” Lorine said.
After the awards portion of the evening, keynote speaker Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean took the stage. During her speech, Brown-Dean discussed her personal journey through many different trials and tribulations. In doing so, Brown-Dean discussed the imperative of, as she puts it, “reclaiming the fierce urgency of now.”
She emphatically advocated for the civic engagement of young people, drawing on her personal experience and the intrinsic value of education to move and inspire the necessity for the next generation to continue to push for change.
After Brown-Dean’s address, she sat down for an armchair discussion wherein she tackled myriad questions posed by both faculty and students. Brown-Dean covered a lot of ground, while offering some key takeaways that anyone interested in activism should bear in mind. She reminded the audience that activism is a long-term strategy. She preached about the importance of strategy and the imperative to remember the bigger picture. She likewise discussed the imperative for college students to be willing to take risks and feel comfortable being wrong, to understand their place and better themselves and their community.
The MLK Legacy Celebration was undeniably a special evening for Wheaton, one that revered bold voices and galvanized new ones. The Wheaton Wire would like to offer congratulations to all the students and faculty recognized, as well as offer thanks to Brown-Dean for her time.