Fairfield University’s Celebration of Activism event was not only a celebration of activism, but a celebration of life. The event was held as a part of the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, and was held on Jan. 29 outside of the Dogwoods Room. There was singing, dancing and empowering speeches as a large crowd of students gathered around to celebrate students past, present and future trying to make a change.

First-year Aarushi Vijay read her poem, “Silence,” in which she asks her classmates to speak out against injustices in the world. When asked what the most impactful moment of the event was for her, Vijay, who was representing Performing for Change at the event, responded, “I think the most impactful thing was everyone singing ‘We shall overcome’ at the end.” Vijay’s sentiment of taking action and speaking out echoed throughout the event and the week of MLK celebrations, which will culminate with the convocation address given by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Jan. 30.

Kendi will give a speech regarding Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for racial justice in America followed by a 15-minute question and answer session. Kendi is a historian, contributor of op-eds for The New York Times and The Atlantic and a New York Times Bestselling author. He is also the author of several award winning books including “The Definite History of Racist Ideas in America” and “The Black Campus Movement.”

“The 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration theme is ‘Fighting for Racial Justice: Renewing the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,’” said assistant professor of sociology and anthropology Rachelle Brunn-Bevel, Ph.D., who is organizing the event.

Brunn-Bevel continued, “Dr. Kendi will discuss how Dr. King’s civil rights and human rights work are connected to movements for social justice happening today.”

Kendi is considered an authority figure on this subject. Along with publishing a large body of work on the subject of social justice, Kendi also founded the Antiracism Center at American University.

Kendi’s Antiracism Center, “engage[s] in research of racial inequity and discrimination that leads to policy innovation and implementation.” The Antiracist Center is currently planning an Antiracist Book Festival set for April 27, 2019 in Washington, D.C. that will feature “the nation’s top authors of race and racial justice.” This movement of antiracism is central to Kendi’s philosophy, and will likely be a pivotal topic during the convocation. He is currently writing a book titled “How to be Antiracist.”

Kendi’s work has reached the inside of the classroom as well. Brunn-Bevel stated, “Several faculty members are bringing their classes to convocation and integrating Dr. Kendi’s books and/or articles into their Spring 2019 courses. There are many students and groups on campus actively striving to be men and women for others. The convocation provides another opportunity for students to galvanize and recommit to social justice work.”

We hope that the Fairfield University Community will take away from the Convocation what it means to respect and value others regardless of their identities, find common ground with each other inside and outside of the classroom, and continue to work towards a unified campus in meaningful discourse regarding racial justice and inclusive excellence,” said Ophelie Rowe-Allen, Ph.D., 2017 faculty Vision Award winner as well as associate dean of students and director of Residence Life and Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, who is also organizing the event.

Rev. Larri Mazon, director of Multicultural Relations, who recounted memories of black student protest at Fairfield University, told students at the Celebration of Activism, “I challenge you to find what sets a fire to your heart.” Kendi’s convocation will be a culmination of a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. that has emphasized the importance of students advocating for causes that are important to themselves, to their campus and to their country.

Tickets for Kendi’s convocation can be obtained at the Quick Center prior to the event at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30 or can be reserved online or over the phone at no cost to students.


About The Author

-- Junior | Emeritus Assistant News-- English and Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.