This year's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program was one many will never forget. We started the day in the theater, gathered as a community to screen the documentary The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306, which examines Dr. King's legacy through interviews with those to whom he was close in the days and weeks before his assassination, including the Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles.
Later, we welcomed as our keynote speaker noted poet Dr. Joshua Bennett, who performed a number of his pieces with lyrical grace and raw emotion. Afterward, he spoke with students about his creative process, his love for music, and what it's like to write and present spoken-word poetry.
After an interactive session examining identity and community led by students who attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in the fall, we returned to the theater. Students in the class "Song & Story" performed an original piece that combined video, audio interviews, spoken-word poetry, and original music and lyrics—all of which was crafted in less than two weeks of concentrated effort.
"I exist in excess of my anguish. I am not invisible. I am a beam of light too brilliant for untrained vision. I am not target practice. I am not a bullseye with rhythm. This breath is no illegal substance...Dignified even when strangers try to make this beauty a burden. Say no one will make this beauty a burden."—Joshua Bennett, "Say It, Sing It if the Spirit Leads"