Martin Luther King Jr. Day a “day on”


Desiree Wilson

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Guilford College hosted a day of “teach-ins” meant to demonstrate different ways to implement change within a community and how to use various skills in order to support social justice.

The day began with a few opening remarks in the Bryan, Jr., Auditorium by Bonner Community Liaison Alyzza-May Callahan ‘10 and Director of Community Learning James Shields. Upon entering the auditorium, everyone was handed a slip of paper with words like “community,” “unity,” “food” and “service” on them.

Hunger fellow and junior Chelsey Wilson received the word “peace” and shared a story about her experience earlier in the morning at the Four Seasons Mall, which was holding various service-based activities in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“After I packaged food, I felt at peace with myself and the activity,” said Wilson of her experience boxing food for soldiers. “We wouldn’t have been able to come together and have that experience without Martin Luther King.”

After the participants shared their stories, Shields took the floor, opening with a quote by King.

“‘In the end, we will remember not the words of enemies, but the silence of our friends,’” said Shields.

Shields connected King’s words with the day’s theme of social justice.

“It’s easy to act like things like racism and homophobia don’t exist,” said Shields. “But, they do. We want to make the country and the world work for us … we have to let the politicians know and lift our voices and not be silent.”

The introduction was finished off by a special presentation from sophomore Jodie-Ann Geddes, who won the first ever speech contest held for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at Guilford, describing her goals and dreams and what she has learned about herself through service.

“The teach-in was a time of healing for me,” said Geddes. “This healing is both in a personal and social justice atmosphere. I appreciate those that have committed to such a legacy.”

First-year and Bonner Scholar Shelby Smith attended the teach-ins both as an observer and a co-leader of the Stigmas and Struggles of Poverty workshop.

“It’s fascinating to see how issues of race are so interconnected with issues like poverty, mental illness and violence,” said Smith. “That’s what I really wanted to emphasize with the teach-in I helped run with Noelle Lane.”

There were two workshops following the introduction, including the Yoga for Change workshop led by Part-Time Lecturer in Sports Studies Dawn Leonard and the Silk-Screening 101 workshop led by Maia Buess ‘11.

The yoga workshop was an hour long session that began with Leonard describing how yoga “invokes physical change,” but that what happens physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during a session all go hand in hand. She asked participants to set an intention, be it for a change we’d like to make or simply to continue on a positive path, and then to breathe into the intent and visualize it in order to accomplish it.

“Yoga is a powerful way to learn about ourselves and knowing ourselves is the only way to effectively make change,” said Leonard.

The screen-printing workshop began with the people in the class circling up and saying their name and something they were excited about, whether that was homework, screen-printing or King. Buess began the workshop by outlining how silk-screening is accessible to everyone because the supplies are so cheap, and can be used to make t-shirts or print posters.

“Making your own media, instead of big companies, is an important part of social justice and getting your message out there,” said Buess.

The closing speech was presented by Lorenzo “Logie” Meachum — a Greensboro native, teacher and professional story-teller — who discussed the importance of the Guilford College area and Greensboro in civil rights history.

The auditorium was silent as Meachum talked, sang and played guitar, the silence only broken by occasional bouts of laughter in response to some of his stories. At the end of his speech, Meachum wrapped everything up with a song, the entire audience joining in with him.

“If there’s one this you learn today, or get from Guilford College, it’s to love everybody,” said Meachum.

After the program, many students stayed behind to discuss ways to continue with their service or what the day meant to them.

Sophomore Paula Martinez saw the day as a commemoration of a great man who “encouraged diversity and change.”

“What it means to me is that Martin Luther King Day is a day of remembrance and a day to either enact change or attempt to accept it,” said Martinez.