Martin Luther King, Jr. address held in Lawrence Memorial Chapel

On Wednesday, May 1, Lawrence University and the Diversity & Intercultural Center (D&IC) hosted an event highlighting a lecture titled “Reflections: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Past and Present.” The lecture was delivered by Associate Professor and Director of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh Alphonso Simpson, and it discussed the importance of the Black experience alongside his lecture presentation of  “Dr. King’s Dream and Where We Are Now.” The event was accompanied by an opening and closing performance by Lawrence R&B group NOIR, as well as spoken poetry given by senior Monique Johnson. Simpson’s lecture was well-received among those who attended.  

“He wanted to have a conversation rather than slam things to us like a professor does at a lecture,” said first-year Isaac Arriola.  

“[It felt like] he wasn’t even lecturing us; he was giving us a sermon,” said senior Monique Johnson.  

However, junior Seckou Soumare, vocalist for NOIR, commented on the lack of promotion by Lawrence itself. He felt the D&IC and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-racism and Support Services (IDEAS) division did what they could to promote the event, but more promotion from the school itself was needed. 

“Having these conversations outside of Black History Month and outside of MLK Day would be a really big step forward,” Soumare said. “We tend to forget about these things once we get out of the month of February. I think the Lawrence community, students, faculty and staff can do a better job at recognizing the impact of Black history, the Black history on this campus and what it means to us today, and how we keep moving forward.”   

“I wanted it to represent both Black men and Black women, but also just living as a POC in general, and the struggles, but also the joy, that comes with that,” said Monique. 

“I felt it — I felt her poetry when she was talking,” Arriola said, “when she raised her voice and how she used expression.”