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Oxford College hosts annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Oxford's 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

The Rev. Kim Jackson delivered the keynote address at Oxford's 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

At Oxford College’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Tuesday, January 18—part of Emory’s official King Week—keynote speaker The Reverend Kim Jackson charged her audience of students, faculty, staff, and the general public to reflect on King’s legacy and ask themselves: “What part will you play as we all do this work to bend the long arc of the moral universe towards justice?”

The event, hosted by Oxford Chaplain Lyn Pace, also featured music from Maury Allums, opening remarks from 2020 MLK scholar Hannah Bodus, and closing remarks from Oxford Dean Doug Hicks. In his introduction, Pace shared his vision for the evening: “ We hope you’ll make meaning out of tonight’s event and that it will call you to action in your own way in your corner of the world.”

Bodus noted King’s “courageous leadership to peacefully organize and enact social change” and called for the audience to honor his “complex, grueling, laborious, and frustrating activist work.” She closed with her favorite King quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

The Rev. Kim Jackson was keynote speaker at Oxford's 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

Dean Hicks, following The Rev. Jackson’s speech, discussed Oxford’s efforts to address its own history, noting that King himself would not have been allowed to enroll in Oxford or Emory during the years he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. Jackson had spoken about her own undergraduate experience, during which she began a life dedicated to pursuing social change; Hicks encouraged students to reach out to faculty and staff and develop mentorships like the one that spurred her to action.

Acknowledging the past to create a more just and equitable future was a key point of Hicks’s remarks. He encouraged the Oxford community to join in upcoming meetings with the Twin Memorials Working Group—responsible for creating monuments in Oxford and Atlanta dedicated to enslaved people’s role in the university’s history—as one way to participate in “making Oxford the best community partner it can be, the best educational institution for our students, and the most equitable and inclusive campus possible.”

“These memorials are a part of the wider educational programming to understand the world, to understand injustice so that we may create justice, to understand inequality so that we might work for more equality,” he said.

Jackson, an alumna of the Candler School of Theology and now a Georgia state representative for the 41st district, summed up her comments with a call to action: “If we are to honor the legacy, the hopes and the dreams of Dr. King, then we have to do something. So, I invite you to find a way to play your small part in our collective work. As you go forth, be willing to follow in King’s steps by standing up for righteousness. Stand up for justice, and stand up for peace.”

Dean Hicks echoed her words in closing the celebration. “I charge you as we wrap up this event to go out into the world in peace. This service has ended, may your service to the world resume. May you work for righteousness, peace, and justice, as Reverend Jackson challenged us to do, as Reverend Dr. King has challenged us to do in our lives.”

Watch a recording of the event

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