MBU Honors MLK Day

Today, MBU honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. around the national theme of “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community.”

With classes on the main campus cancelled, MBU offered opportunities throughout the day for faculty, staff, and students to reflect, get involved, and serve others. 

It is important to celebrate Martin Luther King Day because we need to keep his legacy alive, especially with what has been going on in America recently,” said Adele Beaucicot ’23.

Her classmates Crystal McIver and Lakeje Bekuretsion agreed.

“The celebration of this day is important due to what Martin Luther King means to the standard that the United States should hold itself to,” Bekuretsion said. “Especially with this year’s racial tensions, it is urgent we remember what this day stands for in America.”

“It is important to have representation on our campus not only in terms of diversity, but also in who we give our appreciation to,” McIver said.

Though the COVID pandemic prevented large in-person gatherings, virtual workshops and services brought the community together to pay tribute to King and contribute to the ongoing struggle for racial and social justice.

The MLK reading room in Miller Chapel was open all day for MBU community members to experience and reflect on King’s speeches, writings, and legacy.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service for Peace and Justice, which MBU usually sponsors for the Staunton community, was not possible due to the pandemic this year. Community members instead gathered across their screens for a virtual service featuring testimonials, scripture readings, songs, prayers, and more in honor of King. 

Jade Doswell ’20, MS ’22  has been involved with Mary Baldwin’s King Service every year since she was a first year undergrad. An anthropology/sociology major, she is continuing her studies at MBU in the master’s program in higher education with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

“Celebrating this tradition at MBU allows me to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s fight for racial justice and equality, and use my God-given talents to celebrate equality and acknowledge that the fight is not over,” said Doswell, who contributed a praise dance to “Oh, Freedom” for the King service today. “Dr. Martin Luther King and other activists’ legacies are continuing through these holidays. These legacies give hope and encouragement to fight for basic human rights that America has deprived people of color and minorities.”

Reverend Jazmine Brooks ’16, program director for the Office of Inclusive Excellence at MBU, delivered the sermon on connections between a verse from the Book of Amos — “Let justice roll down like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” — and King’s work, urging the congregation to do their part to transform lives, communities, and systems through love, risk-taking, and resistance. 

(Left to right) Reverend Jazmine Brooks ’16 delivers the sermon for today’s virtual King Day Scholarship Worship Service; MBU graduate student Jade Doswell ’20, MS ’22 and undergraduate student Jelani Meyer ’22 share how Martin Luther King’s life has impacted their own life and MBU experience.

Jelani Meyer ’22, English major and president of the Black Student Alliance at MBU, studied King’s writings and speeches in the MBU course on Martin Luther King and a Philosophy of Civil Rights. He is drawn to the practice of Agape, which, to quote King, is the “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all men” and “an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative.” 

“I try to actively exercise Agape every day of my life, in order to not only sustain my own personal relationships,”  said Meyer, “but also to show that there is strength that comes from being someone who can love all of the time, and continue to do so even when it isn’t being given back.” 

Two virtual workshops on race-based trauma and effective allyship were also held today for the MBU community, one geared toward faculty, staff, and student ambassadors, and the other toward students. Clinical psychologist Boderick Sawyer facilitated the sessions, sharing his expertise in race-based stress and trauma, mindfulness, and compassion. 

A campus-wide food drive is underway to support the Valley Mission in Staunton and help combat food insecurity in the community, especially with the context of economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

The Spencer Center for Civic Engagement makes connections between King’s speeches and MBU’s 2020–21 university-wide theme of courage with the project “Dr. King: The Courage to Speak.” It features members of the MBU community reading excerpts of King’s writings across a wide range of topics. A link to the project can be found in the MBU daily announcements email all this week.