Trinity Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

-Julia Oostema ’23

On January 16, 2023, the Trinity community gathered together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme of the celebration was “reset.” Members of the Gospel Choir, Black Student Union (BSU), and Department of Multicultural Engagement coordinated this theme so that as we sang, meditated on Scripture, and read Dr. King’s writings together, we also evaluated our interactions with each other and applied what we learned to our campus.

Prior to the celebration, President Aaron Kuecker sent out an email saying: “We gather on this day to be reminded of the promise and the calling that are before us as we seek justice, flourishing, and belonging for every person and for all peoples.”

This coincides with Trinity’s Commitment to Unity which says: “We affirm in our commitment to work toward greater diversity not only in regard to our racial, ethnic, and cultural demographic but also in regard to acceptance, appreciation, honor, and equality within our campus climate.”

The goal of this celebration was not only to commemorate Dr. King but also to cultivate a culture of acceptance and belonging across Trinity’s campus — to reflect on the past, consider the present, and work toward a better future.

Dr. David Brodnax Sr., Professor of History, was featured as the keynote speaker. After drawing our attention to various aspects of King’s life, he reminded us that his work is not done. “‘Reset’ is thus not returning to how things were in his lifetime but rather to realize the full potential in our Christian faith, in democracy, and in other ideas that have never been fully realized or, in some cases, have been twisted to enrich the comfortable at the expense of the afflicted. This also means that we must reset how we think of King Day itself.” Instead of using this day to pat ourselves on the back or merely remember an important historical figure, we ought to continue King’s work. We ought to serve. In the words of former U.S. representative John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. Day ought to be “a day on, not a day off…a day of service to our communities.”

At the end of the celebration, Marquis Isom (’25), BSU President, offered some closing remarks. He reminded us that we can’t address the issues in our society without the help of God. As much as we might hope or wish that we can do it on our own, we can’t. We need to be connected to Christ and empowered by the Spirit because “it takes God to give God what God wants.”

In order for change to take place, this mindset can’t be limited to a single day. In the words of Dr. Brodnax, “If we truly aspire to live up to the ideals of Jesus, the statement ‘all are created equal,’ and Dr. King, we must reset what we do each mid-January and year round.”

May God give us the grace to take up this challenge, today and every day.