By Grace Peck ’18
Has Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream been fulfilled?
On MLK Day, guest speaker Renee Hardman explored that question with the Simpson community at a special event in Smith Chapel.
A successful businesswoman and West Des Moines Council member, Hardman began by recounting King’s work and why he still is being celebrated.
Her voice filled with emotion, she said, “But I ask myself – has his life been in vain? Did his dream die with him? Has his dream been fulfilled?”
Hardman, who had witnessed President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, talked about how much she hope she felt in that moment, and wondered if that represented the fulfillment of King’s dream.
She looks at today’s cultural and political divide and concludes that much work remains. She recalled how, when she was running for city council, a man came out onto his porch and told her, “There is no place for a colored woman to run for such an office in my city.”
She returned to her car and cried. And then she got back to work.
She challenged Simpson students to do the same. It’s up to everyone to fulfill King’s dream, she said.
“If you are more familiar with your smart phone than your history, try this: think of Dr. King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app. His legacy must be updated to remain relevant.”
King called on everyone to serve, Hardman said, and Americans can honor his legacy by promoting King’s ideals every day of their lives.
“So let us get back to what we can do to keep this dream alive and fulfill his legacy…its more than coming out on an annual MLK celebration, its about making a commitment to live his principles every day of our lives,” she said.
In closing, she said, “I know what I’ve read about Simpson College, how you are deeply committed to serving others, and we depend on you to lead the charge and keep us moving forward. Volunteer service is a powerful that unites us and builds powerful communities.”
Part of the Simpson College Mission Statement is “graduating students who continue to grow as free, responsible and fulfilled individual in the world of family, work, service and scholarship,” and “nurturing values…within a creative, diverse and just community.”
The MLK Day service concluded with different students discussing projects they have worked on or are currently working on.
Upcoming service opportunities for Simpson students include:
- RLC Spring break service trip to Houston, Texas in March.
- RLC Justice Week begins March 19-23.
- Meals from the Heartland has opportunities on March 22.
- The annual March to End the Ism’s is on March 23.
For more information, please visit the Simpson College service page.
The MLK Day event drew praise from Rosa Gude, a junior majoring in public relations and music, with a Spanish minor.
“As president of Sigma Lambda Gamma, I find days like these so important for the advancement of our country,” she said. “We strive, as the first multicultural sorority on Simpson’s campus, to spread tolerance for people of all walks of life and make it known that differences make us the diverse people we are.”