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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

MLK event inspires, urges students to join Haiti relief

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: News

I have a dream: Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams inspires students at Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations. <br />

I have a dream: Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams inspires students at Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

The Brandeis Community gathered Monday evening in the overfilled Shapiro Campus Center Theater to celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in an event entitled “A Heart Full of Grace,” which featured oratory performances, music and poetry.

The fifth annual celebration included Kennet Altidor’s ’10 performance of Dr. King’s final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” as well as a speech from Reverend Hurmon Hamilton of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church.

Hamilton reminded the audience that Dr. King was “an ordinary person with several extraordinary responses.” He explained that Dr. King felt anger and fear throughout much of his life, yet used these emotions to fuel his drive to help others.

“If you can be inspired by his life you will not simply reach where he reached, but you can farther,” Hamilton said. He asked the audience to tell themselves, “before I live and leave this planet, I want to do something about the way world is.”

Speakers at the event stressed the importance of social justice and help for others during a desperate times, focusing on aiding Haiti, which has suffered from numerous earthquakes since Jan. 12.

“Yes, I’m happy that we’re all helping now, but where were we before the earthquake?” Hamilton said.

After opening remarks, Shaina Gilbert ’10, a first generation Haitian American, and Nate Rosenblum ’10, a leader of the Waltham Group, asked students and others to offer support for the Haitian community.

As part of their speeches, all audience members with Haitian descent held hands on the stage and held up two Haitian flags as they prayed for their nation.

“We are injured in body, but not in [our] souls,” Gilbert said. “Thank you for your support, love and prayers for Haiti during our darkest hour.”

Rosenblum, who recently returned from a community service project in Haiti three days before the earthquake occurred, stressed that “as a community we will move forward and support both Haiti and the Haitian people,” he said.

Gilbert also asked the audience to remember the strength of the Haitian people and to discover “who we are losing.”

Following the students’ remarks about the earthquake in Haiti, Ashley Hebert ’09 sang “Go Light Your World,” and said that it’s a song “about sharing your gifts with your community and your family.”

Speaking to the students specifically, Hamilton asked them to learn from Dr. King’s use of emotion and to help better a decaying world.

“The question is not how ordinary you are. The question is how prepared are you to make extraordinary responses to the anger that lies within, to the fear that lurks around,” Hamilton said.

The evening also included a performance from Jamaal St. John a poem entitled “Hush.” As St. John read his poem he said that “freedom is an unborn child growing in the womb of our psyches despite a miscarriage of justice.”

Hamilton told the students to enjoy themselves in college, to go on dates and go to parties, “but at the end of the day, decide, that’s not good enough.”

“[It’s] not good enough until you have done something about taking this broken fragile world–done something to help transform it just a little bit more…” Reverend Hamilton said.

The event also featured performances by the Brandeis Jewish A Capella group Manginah, the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir, the Roxbury Presbyterian Church Praise Team and Youth Choir and a song from Lynne Jordan.

Father Walter Cuenin, the Catholic Chaplain at Brandeis explained that the event represented the Brandeis spirit well because it celebrated all different faiths.

“I think it’s a great sign of the unity of all God’s people coming together. To me, it’s what Brandeis really is. We celebrate all peoples traditions of faiths and certainly the spirit of Dr. King,” Cuenin said.