On Jan. 23, the Wesleyan community gathered in Crowell Concert Hall to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pictured in the center is Penney Jade Beaubrun, assistant director for alumni and parent relations for University Relations and MLK Commemoration Committee member.
Dr. Bettina Love, award-winning author and associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia, presented the 12th annual MLK Commemoration’s keynote address titled “What Came Before & After King: Abolitionist Teaching & Life.” During her talk, she focused on the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex. Love is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the area of hip-hop education and is the author of the book We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press).
Sydney Ochieng ’22 shared Love’s bio prior to her address, noting that her research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate hip-hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice.
Demetrius Colvin, director of Wesleyan’s Resource Center, welcomed the audience with a song and discussion on behalf of the MLK Commemoration Committee. Colvin is the chair of the committee.
Debbie Colucci, interim vice president for equity and inclusion, and equity compliance director and deputy Title IX coordinator welcomed the audience to Wesleyan’s MLK Day celebration.
Diana Martinez, assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, screened an excerpt from Dr. King’s June 7, 1964, baccalaureate sermon at Wesleyan.
Between 1962 and 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Wesleyan four times. He also received an honorary degree from Wesleyan during the 1964 commencement. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)
Langston Lynch ’20 provided a musical performance as part of the commemoration. She wrote the song, titled “The Mile,” in October 2018. “When Demetrius asked me to perform for the MLK event, this was the song I chose as I believe it’s about what it means to find freedom as a young creative,” Lynch said.
Prior to the keynote address, Love hosted a workshop at Wesleyan centered on helping students and educators with the process of acknowledging, reflecting, critiquing, and moving toward practical goals to challenge and transform social injustices within the classroom context.
The event was well-attended by students, faculty, and staff.
Evelyn Bozeman, payroll supervisor, attends the MLK Commemoration event every year.
Love received a standing ovation for her address. (Photos by Olivia Drake)