January 20, 2004
On Tuesday, January 20, 2004, the Hampden-Sydney College community commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with two very meaningful events. First, the Minority Student Union gathered at the Burrell House where a candlelight procession began. While marching to the Bell Tower, the group sang verses from songs like "We Shall Overcome" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," both of which were popular during the freedom marches of the sixties. Once at the Bell Tower, MSU members recited poetry from Langston Hughes, shared perspectives on Dr. King's legacy, and ended with a prayer asking for continued guidance in reaching the Dream.
Later at Crawley Forum, Maurice Jones '86, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, was the featured speaker for the evening. Jones' talk was focused on the issue of poverty, which was the current concern for Dr. King when he was assassinated April 4, 1968. While not undermining unfair practices based on race, economic disparity is more of a challenge now in the efforts to reach the "Promise Land" that Dr. King described. Using actual statistics from the state of Virginia, Jones enlightened the audience on how big of a problem the state is facing with poverty. Subtopics such as health insurance, educational programs, minimum wages, and general living expenses were used to support the focus of the talk.
After the formal talk, Jones answered several questions by students and faculty. The entire program ended with a presentation to the honored guest by Tony Moore '07 on behalf of the Minority Student Union and the Office of Intercultural Affairs.