MLK Day Teach-In Schedule

At College of Saint Benedict

9:15-9:55 a.m.

Sacrament and Racial Injustice Dr. Ben Durheim, Theology

Main Building, Room 324

10:10-10:50 a.m.

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” It’s Meaning and Value, Then and Now

Dr. Vincent Smiles, Theology

Main Building, Room 324

11:15-11:45 a.m.

Martin had a Dream: Dr. King's Dream 55 Years Later Dr. Chris Conway, Theology

BAC, Room A130

Noon-12:40 p.m.

The African American and American Indian Civil Rights Movements Dr. Ted Gordon, FYS

BAC, Room A130

12:55-1:35 p.m.

Women in the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Laura Taylor, Theology

BAC, Room A130

1:50-2:30 p.m.

Martin Luther King Jr. as a Student of Theology Dr. Andrew Edwards, Theology

BAC, Room A130

At Saint John's University

8:55-9:35 a.m.

What does the Genome Reveal about Race and Ancestry? Dr. Katherine Furniss, Biology

Art Center, Room 102

8:55-11:25 a.m.

Have you Heard from Johannesburg:

From Selma to Soweto Viewing of documentary with discussion to follow

Dr. Christi Siver, Political Science

Alcuin Library Auditorium

10:45-11:25 a.m.

Why did MLK give up his Guns? Dr. Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies

Art Center, Room 102

11:40 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Community Poetry Mural: Drs. Jessica Harkins, Rachel Marston, Betsy Johnson Miller; English

Peter Engel Science Center, Room 269

12:35-1:15 p.m.

Martin Luther King: The Last Year Dr. Ken Jones, History

Art Center, Room 102

1:30-2:10 p.m.

Getting in Touch with Your Inner Racist Dr. Charles Wright, Philosophy

Art Center, Room 102

Session Descriptions

Martin Luther King Jr. as a Student of Theology. Dr. Andrew Edwards, Theology. King's theology was formed at Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University. This session will look at those years, including the papers he wrote, in order to contextualize the theological background of his ministry.

Our Nation Was Born In Genocide: Intersections between the African American and American Indian Activism. Dr. Ted Gordon, FYS. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the notion that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race." This MLK Teach-In presentation will examine the intersections between the African American and American Indian civil rights movements. While American Indian activists strive for increased political and economic independence, African American activists press for greater political and economic integration. Despite their differences, both movements formed important and lasting connections.

Sacraments and Racial Injustice. Dr. Ben Durheim, Theology. This discussion will provide a brief historical and theological background of the intersection between sacramental practice and racial injustice in the United States, followed by a discussion of where this leaves the contemporary U.S. church in its liturgical and social life.

Have you Heard from Johannesburg: From Selma to Soweto Christi Siver, Political Science. In this session, students will watch and discuss the documentary “Have You Heard from Johannesburg: From Selma to Soweto” (83 min). This documentary shows how African American leaders in the United States organized to get the U.S. Congress to pass (and override a presidential veto) to sanction South Africa for apartheid.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail: It’s Meaning and Value Then and Now. Dr. Vincent Smiles, Theology. This session will be explore this important work by Martin Luther King, Jr. and ask participants to consider what this letter means to them in our present context.

Getting In Touch with Your Inner Racist: Dr. Charles Wright, Philosophy. The guiding conviction of this interactive session is that racial equity will remain forever elusive until people are willing to be honest about racial prejudices that we didn't choose, but for which we are responsible.

Martin Luther King: The Last Year. Dr. Ken Jones, History. Most Americans draw their vision of King and his message from two iconic 1963 texts: the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and the “I Have a Dream” speech. We hold up the image of King in 1963, but pay much less attention to the man, the movement, and his message in the remaining five years of his life. Those years saw triumph in the form of passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. They were also years of tumult as the nation sank deeper into the war in Vietnam, and King’s approach was called into question by the power of institutional racism in the North, and by summers of violent race riots across the nation. This interactive session explores how King’s vision of the way forward had changed by 1967, and examines the reaction of the American public to his message in the months before his death.

Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. Laura Taylor, Theology. Although many women played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, from leading local civil rights organizations to serving as lawyers on school segregation lawsuits, their work remains largely unknown and unrecognized. This session will explore the voices and achievements of many of these “hidden figures,” including Mamie Till, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, and Septima Clark.

Why did MLK give up his guns? Dr. Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies. This talk/discussion will examine Dr. King's early beliefs in armed self-defense and then explore how he came to reject armed violence in his life and for his movement.

Martin had a Dream: Dr. King's Dream 55 Years Later. Dr. Chris Conway, Theology. Citing how the speech had been de-radicalized and coopted, sociologist Michael Eric Dyson in 2000 called for a ten year moratorium on reading Dr. King's 'I have a dream speech.' Dyson argued that, "if we are forced to live without that speech for a decade, we may be forced to live it instead. In so doing, we can truly preserve King's hope for racial revolution." This teach-in will look at the place of King's dream both in that famous speech and in his radical, prophetic vision for the United States as well as the hope and challenge this dream puts before us today.

Community Poetry Mural: Drs. Jessica Harkins, Rachel Marston, Betsy Johnson Miller; English. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. suggested, “Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." Many poets and writers are among such “creative extremists” and we welcome all members of our community to join in a reading of selected ‘activist’ poems and creative extremist writing. Selected poems include Claudia Rankine’s work on microaggressions, and Lucille Clifton and Ed Bok Lee’s work on reclaiming identity. Participants will have time (and prompts) to write their own words in response to these poets, and be encouraged to share portions of their own writing on a community mural of poetry.

What does the Genome Reveal about Race and Ancestry? Dr. Katherine Furniss, Biology. The ability to sequence the entire genome has renewed the question of whether there is biological justification for categorizing individuals according to race. This session is open to all interested in learning about the genetic variation that exists between individuals and races, how that variation is used, and the consequences.