On January 18, faculty, staff, and students of Meredith College met in Jones Chapel and on a Zoom call to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reading aloud his most powerful and moving speeches.
From 12 to 2 p.m., the event provided each speaker 15 minutes to read one of King’s speeches.
The event featured four of King’s most famous speeches, the first being “Our God is Marching On.” King initially gave the speech on March 25, 1965, on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after completing the Selma to Montgomery March.
“I Have a Dream” was the second speech read aloud. King gave the address to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.
The third of King’s works to be read aloud was “A Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The letter calls people to take direct action against unjust laws rather than waiting for justice to come through the courts. King wrote the open letter on April 16, 1963, as he sat behind bars after being arrested during his Birmingham campaign.
“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” was the fourth speech read aloud at the event. On April. 3, 1968, King gave his last address in Memphis, Tennessee, before he was assassinated the following day. During his final speech, King calls on the U.S. to live up to its ideals and discusses his possible untimely death.
The two-hour event wrapped up with closing remarks from Chaplain Stacy Pardue.
“I do hope that this has been inspiring, and I really hope and pray that we will be tools of good in this world to move this conversation of race forward. I look forward to more of that this semester here at Meredith,” Pardue said.
Pardue hopes to make the readings of King’s speeches an annual event and eventually incorporate more elements into the celebration.
“He was such a formidable person in our past, and obviously, it is sad that so much of this is still so applicable today. We’ve moved forward in a lot of ways, but we certainly have a long way to go,” she said. “He was an unbelievable writer and spokesperson. In reading these speeches, in his letters, it’s been so moving to me.”
The following faculty, staff, and students read at the celebration: Chaplain Stacy Pardue; Associate Professor of Human Environmental Sciences Jill Ardley; Vice President for College Programs and Professor of English Jean Jackson; Instructor of Human Environmental Sciences Chasity Johnson; Associate Professor of English & Assistant Dean of Arts & Humanities Alisa Johnson; Chapel Intern Launa Steward; and Chemistry & Biology student, Grace Wachira, ʼ22.
Pictured above (starting clockwise from the top) are Jill Ardley, Jean Jackson, Grace Wachira, and Stacy Pardue.