Written By: Jonathan Clayton
On Monday, January 20, the OKWU community came together to remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. All classes were canceled, and two campus events were held to reflect on the life and legacy of one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement in American history. The events of the day included a prayer meeting in the chapel, dedicated specifically to prayer for our campus community, and reflecting on the values that Dr. King stood for. According to Campus Care Coordinator Natalie Church, these values are reconciliation, forgiveness, courage, trust, compassion, and generosity.
After two hours of open prayer time with support and attendance from faculty and students, a discussion opened up about how OKWU can serve our Bartlesville community better and create a space to celebrate diversity. Natalie said that all in attendance for this time of prayer and reflection enjoyed it, with faculty and students coming together. The OKWU baseball team gathered as a group at the event as well.
The second event of the day was an MLK Trivia Night, allowing students and faculty to test their knowledge of the man’s life. This was a fun time for all and was a good way to commemorate the day historically. Natalie hopes the day will mean more than simply a celebration of MLK Day, but that it will bring about real change: “For OKWU as a school, we wanted to not only celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life on earth and all he accomplished, but also what he valued: … God’s Word and the gospel. MLK started a movement not through violence but through simply standing for what is right and speaking out. I pray as a campus we can also adopt these values.” Natalie also said that Dr. King’s life is a reminder of what it means to answer God’s call and stand up for what is right, regardless of the circumstances.
Culture Connections, a group on campus focused on celebrating the diversity we believers have in Christ, played a special role in Monday’s events and has a plan to continue the conversation toward helping OKWU serve students better. The group started during the 2018-19 school year. For more on this, check out my article on the group from April 2019 entitled: Culture Connections: A Focus on the Beauty of Diversity and Oneness in Christ. The group plans events with the goal of bringing the student body together to celebrate diversity. According to Natalie Church, Culture Connections will continue to celebrate the values that Dr. King fought for throughout the semester!
Summer Smith, one of the students involved with the leadership of the group, when reflecting on the event, said, “MLK Day was fantastic. I appreciate the support from the faculty, staff, and students – especially the baseball team! The Prayer Rally was wonderful. It was a great time of reflection on how the Body of Christ should pursue reconciliation, trust, and forgiveness.” She also said, “The discussion after prayer was needed. We discussed some tough issues and some students were able to share their frustrations with the campus culture and their expectations for Culture Connections.”
Summer was grateful for the day off from classes as well, and for the chance to remember the holiday in an impactful way. She said “It’s important to honor Martin Luther King Jr. because his life and legacy represented Christ well. His leadership helped cause the privileged to realize their wrongs while keeping the oppressed accountable to God as well. Christians ought to be as bold, compassionate, and wise as Dr. King was.”
Summer wants to continue the conversation started on MLK Day so that we can learn more about other cultures! She says, “I see Culture Connections flourishing in community. As of right now, my team and I are working to make Culture Connections a club. This will give students many opportunities to have their voices heard, so that no one will be overlooked.”
Making Culture Connections a club will help students learn more about the people they go to school with. Summer says, “I know I need to be more involved loving others the way Christ loves us. And to be loved by God is to be fully known by Him too—That is my goal for myself and for the rest of the student body.”
Martin Luther King Day was a great day on campus that will be recognized more in the future. For more information on Cultures Connections, watch for more articles and contact Summer Smith, Josiah Donald, or Jessica Gutierrez.