The Lehigh University Martin Luther King (MLK) Committee in collaboration with the CEC, Visiting Lecturers Committee, Africana Studies, the Dialogue Center, and Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries invited author of the Pulitzer Prize Award-winning novel- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead to the Lehigh Campus to give a keynote address to commemorate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.
Colson Whitehead regaled the crowd with his journey to becoming a published and recognized author. He spoke about his childhood in Manhattan where he grew up reading Stephen King books. He narrated his journey as an author from the rejections he faced up until his break as a published author and had the crowd singing “MacArthur Park” which was symbolic to his artistic journey. Resilience and perseverance are key in his success story. The author kept the audience captivated with his wit and narration of his life and of his book.
On talking about his award-winning novel- “The Underground Railroad”, he narrated the roots of the idea of the book. The idea was conceived in his mind about eighteen years ago to make the metaphoric “underground railroad” into a reality and he started writing his masterpiece about four years ago. The book tells the story of Caesar and Cora who are two slaves in the 1800s who make a bid for their freedom from Georgian plantations through the underground railroad which is depicted as a rail transport system with safe houses and hidden routes. He talks about the dilemma of the female slaves who go through a different sort of hell brought on by slavery.
Colson’s address invites reflection on the history of the United States as a country and the present day issues that plague the society. His address ended with a standing ovation by the elated audience.
The CEC Education & Dialogue Committee invites you to join in conversation during the Spring 2018 semester by attending the noon-time “Tackling Tough Topics Together” event which holds tomorrow, Friday, March 2nd, 2018.
At the beginning of the session we will introduce and use the Guidelines for Effective Dialogue to practice how to engage in respectful dialogue with each other, even - or perhaps especially - when discussing "tough topics."
At the March 2nd event, the group will explore the topic: "What does it mean to be free?" All are welcome. Lunch will be provided.
The event will take place in the Global Commons, Williams Hall at 12pm.
The Council for Equity and Community held a general meeting on Tuesday, February 20th to discuss the Campus Climate Survey for 2017 and the following recommendations which will affect programming on campus. The meeting began with the Vice President for Equity and Community talking about the overall campus climate and the improvements that have been made. Notably, these improvements were made, with the help of the CEC, by students who actively took responsibility to create engaging environments where all members of the campus community could feel included. After the address by the VP, the entire council engaged in an activity that encourages self-focus. Self-focus requires one to focus inward and use “I” to begin statements. Talking from one’s own personal perspective encourages the other party to look inward and reflect on his/her own self-focused response. As a member of the Lehigh campus community, reflect on the changes that you would like to see in the environment, articulate them and begin to take steps to make them happen. You can be assured that the CEC is taking all your concerns and comments into consideration and moving forward, action will commence on recommendations to build upon the efforts of making Lehigh a more inclusive and diverse campus.
The Martin Luther King Committee in partnership with Lehigh’s Council for Equity and Community was joined by Bethlehem’s chapter of the NAACP- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on the 15th of January to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King by discussing the underground railroad and our role in its present-day form. The event was well-attended by over 50 guests with a large presence of Lehigh University staff, faculty, student and surrounding community members. The event inspired insightful reflection on the meaning of community for all the attendees and how individual conceptions of community affect present-day relationships and interactions.
The event was started off with an elaborate spread of food fit for royalty. This was followed up by the principles that guide effective dialogue as a precursor to the discussion session. The discussion sessions were held in a roundtable format with guests sitting at various tables for the discussion sessions where Dr. Jennifer Swann was the moderator.
The discussion had attendees sharing their individual experiences and members of the Bethlehem chapter of the NAACP shared their community efforts and engagement practices to ensure a more inclusive Lehigh Valley for all people.
The event closed out with the wise words of Dr. King enjoining us to be aware of the interrelationship of all life and to be our brother’s keeper. This is in line with the inclusive environment that the CEC is trying to achieve on the Lehigh Campus.
As a community, it our responsibility to look out for each other and ensure that every member of the Lehigh Community feels empowered to succeed because in the words of Dr. King- “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation
The CEC welcomes Col. Ty Seidule who is a Professor and Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Join us on Wednesday, February 21 as we discuss the history of the Civil War and reflect on its present day effects.