An event today in the Howell area honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by examining his message of unity and respect.
The Cleary University Walk for Unity began on the university’s Genoa Township campus and then ended with a march through Downtown Howell and program at the Historic Howell Theater. Among those speaking was Cleary student Jamar Bray, who said the message was one that went beyond any particular day on the calendar. “We can march. We can talk. But we have to practice this every single day. This is not something that should happen once a year.”
Also speaking was Mona Shand, community liaison for Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. Shand spoke on the theme of political unity, which she said is something we have more of than most people believe. “Here’s what I firmly believe today. We have more in common than not. We as Americans agree on issues deeper than our polarization would lead you to believe.” Shand added that what would most help us unify as a nation is for all sides to relearn how to have civil conversations with each other and avoid finger-pointing and name-calling.
David Hayes, Cleary’s Dean of Undergraduate Studies, discussed Dr. King’s dream for social unity by highlighting the concept of “the other” that so often impairs society’s ability to see people for who they are. “Dr. King wished for a world where his children would be gauged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I have lived in a world where I have been gauged on the content of my character. I realize this sort of privilege exists. I realize that many people in our country and the world of varying races, religions, creeds and colors that have not been gauged by the content of their character but by the color of their skin. And that is the problem of the other and we must work to eliminate that.”
Cleary University President Jason Boyers closed out the day by pointing out that the word “conspire” had the meaning “breathe together” in its Latin roots. He asked those in attendance to conspire with each other to carry Dr. King’s message of unity forward in everything we do. Boyers added that unity was more than just being inclusive; it is also being curious about each other and learning how each of us fits together like a unique puzzle piece to form a beautiful picture.
Over the past couple of years, Cleary University has provided unique programming for its students and the community for MLK Day, with today’s event just the latest version. (JK)