Violence of Hate

“Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Bucknell University, a private liberal arts college located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, took Martin Luther King Jr. Week to a whole new level in 2016. The university welcomed the likes of Haider Hamza, Mark Barden, Ian Hockley, Jeremy Richman, David Wheeler, Jack Levin, Nyle Fort, Jim Lawson, and Jennifer Pozner to bring King’s message to the students. These nine individuals have their own unique stories and experiences; however, their lives, and the decisions they have made, all connect back to King’s message of violence being immoral. The week, entitled “Violence of Hate,” embodied the overall message of Dr. King while highlighting nine individual stories.

These events came to fruition after the university noticed a need for conversation as a way to respond to different violent attacks happening on campuses across the country. For the first time, the university did not hold classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In honor of Dr. King and the message he preached, the President’s Diversity Council gave the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day a deeper meaning than just another day off for students. Director of the Griot Institute of Africana Studies at Bucknell, Carmen Gillespie, said that with the recent events at other universities, Bucknell wanted to use this opportunity to make Dr. King’s legacy known to students, and bring external recognition throughout the whole week.

BucknellThe week accessed the myths and strategies needed to change the world in relation to the legacy that Dr. King left and the struggles of the world today. With powerful speakers who worked hand in hand with each other, it was evident that no matter what angle you approach from, Dr. King had a message that applies to everyone. In today’s world “the word ‘love’ is often dismissed as affection, but not particularly serious since it cannot be measured. These speakers talked about empathy and compassion, in that context, ‘to love’ is one of the most powerful things we can do,” recounted Gillespie after the week had concluded.

In hosting these events, Bucknell instigated a conversation about the revolution of Dr. King’s message and how it continues to be relevant. Throughout each event students were challenged to look through a different lens. The first talk, given by Iraqi native Haider Hamza, allowed students such as Yash Mittal, Bucknell Class of 2019, to see a different perspective on the war in Iraq. Haider grew up wondering why a country thought it was okay to bring turmoil to his homeland, and ventured to the United States looking for those answers. A lot of times we are told one side of a story, and having a platform to hear from someone who experienced it from the other side was “eye-opening” according to Mittal.

Every event had a full audience, and due to the extreme success of this years’ series, Bucknell is looking forward to doing it again next year. “One of the areas where Bucknell struggles is with a part of its identity to be more inclusive. This [week of events] was a way to start that conversation of diversity,” according to Gillespie.