This past week, on Monday, Jan. 21, Wake Forest granted students, faculty and staff a day off from regularly scheduled activities to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was the iconic proponent of nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement.
Many students spent the day sleeping late, spending time with friends and loved ones and catching up on schoolwork. However, the holiday also afforded an oppotunity for the Wake Forest student body to reflect on the state of justice, racial affairs and activism in the U.S. today. While great progress has been made since King’s era, his birthday should remind all of us how much work is left to be done before true equality is realized in the U.S.
Opportunities for both reflection and conscious action on the holiday were plentiful in Winston-Salem and across the country.
For example, Wake Forest students gathered in the Winston-Salem City Council chambers to demand the removal of a Confederate statue downtown — a vestige of the violent and racist history of slavery present in our community. Others visited Winston-Salem State University to hear CNN political commentator Angela Rye speak about King’s legacy. Across the country, people participated in the MLK Day of Service, honoring King by working together on community projects. Students would not have been able to remember King’s life in as meaningful ways if not for the university-wide holiday.
The Editorial Board of Old Gold & Black urges the campus community to not only remember King’s legacy following the holiday and leading up to Black History Month in February, but also to think more broadly about issues of race and justice that still penetrate public consciousness. Indeed, students should not view the work that King started as completed, but as a project that will need to be actively pursued for decades to come.
Throughout the month of February, the Wake Forest campus will host numerous events to recognize Black History Month. The Editorial Board urges students to attend, think critically about the issues that are prevented and use the privileges and opportunities granted by a liberal arts education to be agents of change in the future.