Ending the Silence

by Public Relations

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., “but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

In honor of King's life and legacy, Cedarville University is making an intentional effort to break the silence.

On Jan. 17, Edward Gilbreath, author of "Reconciliation Blues" and director of editorial for Urban Ministries, Inc., spoke in chapel on racial reconciliation and diversity in the church.

"Racial reconciliation isn't color blindness," Gilbreath said in his address. "But it isn't a church of rainbow colors either. In the real world, reconciliation is a process. It's a love bent toward biblical unity and biblical justice. It's the inevitable result of living out a life of grace, love, and righteousness."

To further commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the efforts of the civil rights movement, Cedarville constructed a replica of the cell where King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A recording of Derrick Green, assistant professor of communication arts, reading the letter played near the cell every hour throughout the day.

In addition, Cedarville's Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a poetry, music, and art event titled “The Dream.” The night included readings from King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech and the works of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. During the event, senior graphic design major Laura Dreyer painted an abstract piece depicting people rising together with their arms outstretched to represent reconciliation and advancement toward unity.

“Part of our vision is teaching students the value and importance of living a life dedicated to loving others and to pursuing reconciliation across ethnic boundaries,” says Grant Miller, a junior political communication major who serves as SGA president. “This will become an even more important attribute to exhibit and live by as the push towards globalization continues.”

“I was really honored to participate,” adds Dreyer. “The atmosphere was so warm and heartfelt, and it will definitely be one of my favorite memories.”

One day filled with events is valuable, but Cedarville makes efforts to recognize civil rights advancements and diversity throughout the year. For example, the Cedarville University Student Life Division organizes an annual five-day Civil Rights Bus Tour. This year’s tour took students through Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to various sites related to the civil rights movement, including the National Civil Rights Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and The King Center.

“The most poignant part of this trip is having the opportunity to talk to fellow students with various backgrounds and listen to their stories, perspectives and struggles,” says Miller. “Anyone who wants to learn about the civil rights movement or is concerned about reconciliation and how disciples of Christ should mirror that in their own lives should go on this trip. It truly is an unforgettable, life-changing experience.”

Cedarville also partners with area institutions to celebrate the life and work of King. On Jan. 19, Cedarville hosted a portion of the Urban Education Conference, sponsored by the Institute of Urban Education at Central State University. The session featured the choir of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Springfield as well as Dr. Joe P. Cornelius, a principal at the Joseph Brown Elementary School in Maury County, Tennessee, who shares the history of the African-American experience through drama, music, and humor.

“I am so happy to attend a school that places such a huge emphasis on ensuring that its students recognize the importance of diversity,” says Andrea Davis, a junior early childhood education major. “Seeing people from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was extraordinary.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,200 undergraduate, graduate, and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.