By William Maskrey staff writer
As many gathered around the country to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 21, the legal holiday established as a memorial to him, the St. John Fisher College community came together in unity to do the same .
The eighth annual Coexistence Dinner, which bears Dr. King’s name, not only celebrated his life but looked to continue his legacy of open, peaceful conversation regarding the racial divide in our county and in our community. The more than people present witnessed a reenactment of Frederick Douglass by Dr. David Anderson, a professor at Nazareth College.
Pharmacy student Justin Kuriyilel described the presentation of Douglass’s life as “passionate.” Elbania Mitchell, also a pharmacy student, stated, “I haven’t seen anything like that before.”
Dr. Gerard Rooney, president of St. John Fisher College, offered words of welcome after the presentation by Dr. Anderson. Dr. Rooney’s welcome focused on moving the college community forward together,
“We must commit to actualizing the Fisher Creed and the virtues we espouse in it, to understanding that impact – not intent – is the gauge by which our actions will be judged,” Rooney said. “We must also acknowledge and address our need for increased awareness and understanding about issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity – in our individual lives, in our campus life, and in our community life. This work will require patience and persistence, a renewed respect for difference, and a commitment to cultural change. “
After dinner, those in attendance participated in an open dialogue at their tables. These groups were decided based upon the color wrist band that was selected upon entering Cleary Auditorium at the beginning of the evening.
The conversations were guided by students at each table and centered on questions regarding the evening’s theme “A Vision of Humanity” — a vision that was seen in Cleary Auditorium, as people of various ages, races, gender identities and ethnicities talked together about where we are as a college community and nation.
Anyone wishing to find more information about the dinner and future diversity programs can contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs.