Washington Post analyst urges Fairfield University students to embrace Dr. King's legacy for social change

Juan Williams, an analyst for the Washington Post, recently urged Fairfield University students attending the 1998 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Human Relations Celebration on campus, not to romanticize Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement and dismiss it as something that has passed. To do so diminishes the will to create social change, which remains a challenge today. "Our country is crying out for leadership," said Williams during his keynote lecture, "for reasoned, smart, and thoughtful young people to become involved in their time."

As one who chronicled the Civil Rights movement for the PBS documentary, Eyes on the Prize - America's Civil Rights Years, Williams concluded, "We have to be Martin Luther King's hands and heart in this era of history. May he help us find our place on the stage."

In speaking of Dr. King, Williams pointed out that King comes to the current generation of college students more as an image, a myth, and a superhero than a human being who "struggled with himself to discern his moment in time ... discover his ability to operate as a man of God to inspire others, and risk stepping into his place as a leader." Williams described in detail Dr. King's initial reluctance as a brand-new, 25-year-old minister to get involved with the one-day bus boycott that would ultimately extend to a year and propel him into his place in history.

Williams, whose extensive experience in journalism has included appearances on PBS' Washington Week in Review, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline, noted that "the sense of commitment to social progress seems to be a genuine part of the culture here at Fairfield, and that is to be commended."

The conference was co-chaired by Angelica Fontanez '99 and Dan Conroy '98 and took place in January. Other events in the program included a pen-pal project between University students and Wilbur Cross elementary students, and a marketplace of cultural sights, sounds, and tastes held in the Campus Center.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 15, 1998

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