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  • Delaney Hayden

Living Out Dr. Martin Luther King’s Light, Leadership, & Legacy

By Delaney Hayden, News Reporter

A celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, light and legacy took place at Canisius College in the Regis Room in Richard E. Winter ‘42 Student Center on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Tara Jabbaar-Gyambrah was the keynote speaker of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah is also the chief executive officer of TMJ Consulting, and was introduced by Mr. Bennie Williams at the event as a “dream enlightener” and “bridge builder.”

Prior to the event, Bennie Williams, assistant dean of students and director of the Multicultural Student Center, shared his insight on the event, the main themes of it, its importance and what he hoped everyone would take away from it as well. Mr. Williams highlighted the idea that “many colleges and universities will host some type of event to commemorate Dr. King's legacy… I think specifically for us at a Jesuit institution, our main focus is to support those who may be marginalized, support those who may not have a voice and to really work for equity in society.”

Mr. Williams reflected further that, “We have a unique obligation to try to honor that legacy because of our Jesuit history. So I think that's part of the importance of why we should be celebrating Dr. King's legacy… being people for and with others, and how we can learn about our skills, our talents and things that we're passionate about to help other people,” he said. “Going back to Dr. Tara's topic… building leaders. How do we build the capacity for people to contribute to society in an effective way? And then I just think about Magis, more, and more not meaning just taking on more, but how can we be more intentional, how can we be more present? How do we use that to guide us in the work that we do? So those would be two of the key values, Jesuit values that I think would be evident today.”

During the event, Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah focused on the idea of how we can be people for others and “pass the baton” just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s baton has been passed through generations and has been handed to us as well. We are called to continue the change and peaceful fight for social justice that Dr. King began. Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah shared, “movement is important to change” and our generation is the next up, waiting for that baton to be passed on to us, so that we can “dismantle systems of oppression” and “rise up and love people no matter the color of their skin.” Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah shared that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to “love one another” and that “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can.” We are called to speak up, “silence is not an option… we are passing on a legacy of truth, a legacy of justice,” Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah emphasized. It is up to us to continue living out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and letting his light shine through all of us, our words, our actions and our voices. “The civil rights movement did not die in the 60s,” it is still alive and prevalent today, so Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah concluded her speech with a question for the audience. “How are you passing the baton of Martin Luther King’s leadership and legacy?”

Mr. Williams recalled, “Dr. King's daughter, Bernice King, mentioned something… I'm paraphrasing it that, it shouldn't just be a day that we recognize Dr. King's legacy. It should be a lifestyle.” Dr. Jabbaar-Gyambrah also stressed the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s remembrance not only being for a holiday, but a way of life that brought people together to fight for social justice.

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