This year’s series, Charleston,
Rwanda and the Possibilities for Peace,
included a charitable gift drive and
an array of events designed to raise
awareness and empower participants to
enact individual and community change.
“This year’s theme addressed violent, tragic, human-rights violations
and how they relate to peace,” says
Professor Carmen Gillespie, English,
who coordinated the events along
with Denelle Brown, associate dean of
students for diversity & inclusion, as
well as the Office of Civic Engagement
and student staff.
“We wanted to think about these
Speaking for Peace
issues from domestic and international
perspectives and ask how we can con-
textualize them in terms of activism,
and the ways in which King thought
about social change,” Gillespie continues.
Among the well-attended events
was the student-facilitated Beloved
Community Dinner, A Movement Like
Kaepernick: How One Individual Can
Spark Possibilities for Peace. More than
200 students, faculty and staff shared
a meal and discussed football player
Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand
during the national anthem as a silent
protest in support of people of color who
face oppression in the United States.
Other highlights were evening talks
and lunch-hour book discussions led by
the week’s featured speakers. Sharon
Washington Risher, whose mother,
two cousins and a childhood friend
were killed during the 2015 shooting at
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal
Church in Charleston, S.C., spoke
Martin Luther King Jr. Week brought activist leaders to campus
By Paula Cogan Myers
about faith, forgiveness and racial
division in the United States.
Joseph Sebarenzi, president of
Rwanda’s parliament from 1997 to
2000, shared his painful memories of
the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which
took the lives of his parents, seven
siblings and many other relatives. He
said that while working to live in peace
and moving toward reconciliation is
difficult, he thinks it is the only way to
ensure that a culture of violence is not
Arun Gandhi, founder of the M.K.
Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and
the Gandhi Worldwide Education
Institute, told the story of King’s
visit to India in 1959, just one year
after King spoke at Bucknell. Gandhi
emphasized the need to understand
how all forms of violence break down
society and urged individuals to
practice daily nonviolence in order to
live lives of peace.
A Sunday Interfaith Service for Peace
and Justice, led by University Chaplain
John Colatch, closed the week by bringing several faith traditions together. “In
the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.,
we attempted to express thanks for our
common humanity and build bridges
to encourage understanding between
communities,” says Colatch.
To read Merrett Stierheim ’55’s
A service in Rooke Chapel drew many worshippers from the campus and community.
account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s
visit to Bucknell in 1958, download the
Bucknell Magazine app or go to
ucknell’s Martin Luther King Jr. Week, Jan. 16–22, brought to campus social justice
leaders, including Arun Gandhi, grandson of the leader of India’s independence
movement, to discuss King’s legacy of peace and nonviolence.