In an attempt to create dialogue about Martin Luther King day, two students: one African-American and one Caucasian have written opinion pieces focusing on an aspect of Corban’s MLK day this year that they feel is important.
Martin Luther King Day not a ‘Black Holiday’
By DeAnna Thomas
Hilltop Photo Editor
It’s interesting that it can take only a year for a lifetime of change to occur. This Martin Luther King Day celebration has affected and inspired me to think and react in a way that makes me wonder why I didn’t act last year.
As the holiday approached, I discovered that some students on campus believe MLK Day is a “black holiday,” which makes me so angry because this holiday belongs to every American. Without the civil rights movement, the successes of unified African-American and Caucasian cultures could never have occurred.
Without the civil rights movement, I wouldn’t be able to attend Corban. I wouldn’t be able to interact, grow and invest in a community that doesn’t really mirror my skin color. I wouldn’t be receiving the education I’m trying to earn, but most importantly I wouldn’t be able to share my opinion because I’d be considered an opinion-less African-American.
I also feel some people have misconceptions about the meaning of diversity. According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is “the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness.” The word sometimes causes people to immediately relate it to race or in some cases African-Americans. This week in chapel it’s “Diversity Week,” which was first introduced by having an African-American speaker in chapel in honor of MLK Day.
Diversity is the relationship between individuals that isn’t limited to one’s gender, religion, age, talents, and ethnicity. It has nothing to do with literal race but everything to do with acceptance.
This year, I realized that “real” diversity can’t be achieved unless we are open to realizing what this word, diversity, is asking us to do or ultimately be. I think diversity can only be achieved once we embrace the challenge to welcome change, change that doesn’t last for just a chapel session but for a whole lifetime.
An Invitation for Diversity
By Hali Anderson
Corban students had the opportunity to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, as Pastor Matt Hennessee from Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and many of the “brothers and sisters” from his congregation came to lead Corban in a time of worship and through a message on diversity.
I was happy at the warm welcome Corban students gave our guests. The normally reserved student body sprang to life as the worship team encouraged us to clap our hands and sway to the music.
Pastor Hennessee even had Corbanites yell a few “amen’s” and “halleluia’s.” While I was excited to celebrate in this way, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of discomfort. Not because I was uncomfortable experiencing a more charismatic form of worship. No, it wasn’t that at all. Rather, because I knew that on Wednesday, Corban would be right back to standing stone-cold in front of their chairs, maybe clapping, but only if they felt adventurous. No one would shout “amen,” and heads would turn in dismay if someone uttered a “halleluia.”
I am excited to celebrate diversity, but the last thing I want is it to become some kind of interesting one-time “experience” or, worse yet, a joke. While I think it was great that Corban invited Pastor Hennessee to lead chapel, I couldn’t help but think that it is a little sad that the only day he has spoken was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Whether real or imagined, I get the sinking feeling that on this holiday people feel expected to invite an African American speaker. While I think it is a wonderful way to celebrate diversity, I wish Corban would invite Pastor Hennessee not just because of this holiday.
Pastor Hennessee said something in chapel that really stood out to me. He stated that he would love it if Corban invited Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church to help together in a service project to our community, not just a one-time celebration of diversity on an obligatory holiday. I believe Corban had the right motivation for inviting Pastor Henessee to lead chapel on Monday, but I also seek to encourage Corban to just maybe take him up on his offer: by uniting together in Christ and sharing the love of Jesus with our community. In my book, that is a true celebration of diversity.