Dartmouth College honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:40 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 7:19 PM EST
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HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - 2020 was a tumultuous year that highlighted many divides that currently exist in this country. But those who promote diversity and inclusion say Martin Luther King Jr. would likely be hopeful at what could come from it.

The issues surrounding racial inequality have played out at the federal level, in cities and towns across America, and on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

“Knowing that he has been here kind of makes it a little bit of hallowed ground,” said Dia Draper.

She is talking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to campus in 1962 when he took part in Dartmouth’s Great Issues course. Draper is the assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Tuck School. She says King was a hopeful realist.

“He would not be surprised by the events at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, but I also think that he would be hopeful,” Draper said.

The uprising in Washington is just one of a handful of recent national events that have highlighted what seems to be a growing divide in America. Over the summer, Black Lives Matter marches filled the streets after the killing of George Floyd.

“Folks were more willing than ever, or either had more time than ever because of the pandemic to really pay attention and say, oh wow, these things that Black and brown people have been saying, they are actually true,” Draper said.

From the protests, confederate statues were taken down.

“All of those symbols mean something and for the vast majority of the public to say this isn’t who we are anymore,” Draper said.

Dartmouth itself saw change this year. A weather vane, depicting a Native American in a way which many said was overtly racist, was removed from campus. Draper says King’s inspiration can be seen in all of it. Using an opportunity to learn from mistakes of the past to make positive changes for humanity moving forward. She says much more work lies ahead.

“These conversations can be hard. They can be awkward, they can be scary, but they are necessary,” Draper said.

Dartmouth College has two weeks of programming dedicated to King, however, COVID-19 has impacted many of those events. But the mission remains the same-- to keep King’s teachings relevant in today’s world.

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