2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Multifaith Celebration featuring Rev. Professor Cornell William Brooks


– On behalf of the William
Jewett Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical
Life, a warm, warm welcome to our community of
multi-faith celebration in honor of Reverend Doctor
Martin Luther King Junior. Let me begin with words of appreciation. We are deeply grateful to
the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Religion Department, the African and African-American
Studies program, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office for Institutional
Diversity and Equity, and the Reverend Doctor
Martin Luther King Junior Celebration Committee, for
our wonderful collaboration in bringing Reverend Professor
Cornell William Brooks to campus for our shared
events today and tomorrow. We are also indebted to those
who work behind the scenes, our partners in facilities,
conference and events, audio/visual, and
administrative roles who make the many details of these
sacred gatherings possible. And to the creative and soulful leadership of Director Walt Cunningham
and the Gospel Choir. President Hanlon, organist Charlie Humard, Tucker Staff, Haleel
Abdulah Leena Capendrao, Sun Priet Sing, and Sydney Pallack. And especially our student speakers, artists, and musicians. The participants in today’s service are bringing the gift of their voices, their creative spirit,
and their reflections on their own spiritual
traditions or world views in response to the theme: Rise Together, chosen by the 2020 Dartmouth
MLK Celebration Committee. It’s an opportune
question to ask ourselves: What does it mean to rise together in a time where it seems there is more pulling people apart than gathering in? How can we lift ourselves and one another when the pain and fear
that comes from inequity, injustice, and intolerance, violence, prejudice, and hatred, presses down and wearies our bodies, our hearts and our souls? Rise Together could be interpreted as the physical action of standing up to or standing for something as a collective. But it seems this language
could be just as much about how an individual courageous act of the spirit lifts up
others and sets in motion a process of change. Sometimes these actions
are about being present, about simple acts of caring and support in sacred ally-ship with
others who are in danger, oppressed, or vulnerable. Sometimes these actions are
about protection and survival. Always they are about hope and movement towards a better world. When I started to reflect on
the theme of Rise Together, I kept coming back to
the image of Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin rising
up together by sitting down. 65 years ago, on March 2nd, 1955, Claudette Colvin was ordered
to move from her seat to the back of the bus, and stand. She did not rise, she did not move. She was handcuffed by the
police and thrown into jail. Claudette later wrote,
“Whenever people ask me, “‘Why didn’t you get up when
the bus driver asked you?’ “I say, ‘It felt as though
Harriet Tubman’s hands “‘were pushing me down on one shoulder, “and Sojourner Truths were
pushing me down on the other.’.” Claudette’s actions
preceded Rosa Parks’ refusal to rise and move, by nine months. When asked about her actions, Rosa said, “People always say that
I didn’t give up my seat “because I was tired, but that isn’t true. “I was not tired physically,
no more than I usually was “at the end of a hard working day. “No, the only tired I was,
was tired of giving in.” The long and difficult road
toward their dream of justice could understandably lead to
the exhaustion of giving in. But we are not too tired to believe that we should give in. Harriet, Sojourner, Rosa and Claudette embodied the power of rising up together, inspiring others then
and now to not give up and not give in, which we
hear echoed in the words of Reverend Doctor King: “Our lives begin to end the day “when we are silent about
things that matter.” Today’s multi-faith
celebration is a commitment to rise together because
we are not giving in, we are not too tired, nor too afraid to believe in things that matter. Today’s celebration is an acknowledgement of the necessity in this
time of uncertainty, anger and fear, to sing and speak and
pray with open hearts, respecting our distinctions, and reaching out to one another to build a sense of our shared humanity, mutual understanding, and interdependence. We welcome Reverend Professor
Cornell William Brooks, a teacher of prophetic leadership and a trailblazer who’s
individual acts of courage have inspired the rising
of minds and bodies and spirits across this country to join with the voices of our students, our beloved Dartmouth
College Gospel Choir, and members of our campus community in our commemoration today. Whether it is an individual
or collective movement of body or mind or spirit, may we find courage and persistence, hope and determination, to inspire one another to
rise together to pursue what matters. A world of human dignity, freedom, justice, and kindness. A world as we know it should be. A world as we know it can be. We move together now in our service with words of prayer offered
by Sang Wook Suninam, advisor to our United Campus
Ministry student groups: Agape and Logos. – Please join the prayer with me. Our heavenly mother and father God, we’re gathered here broken-hearted for the world filled
with hatred and violence. The innocent blood, it’s
shed and overflowed. The cries of the oppressed
are louder than ever, God. But God, we also come into
your place with a seed of hope. As we become in despair of
seemingly everlasting evils of this world, we are
comforted by the fact that your kingdom is like a mustard seed, and that we don’t need to
accomplish a big thing, but just become the smallest seed, as your kingdom would
turn it into a big tree. Yes, God, your kingdom is
indeed like a grain of seed. God, we are here to celebrate the life and the works of Doctor King. You showed us through
the life of Doctor King that this miracle, this
mystery of the smallest seed is real and happens right
in the midst of our life. And God, we’re here also to
celebrate the nameless seeds that were sown to this world. We also see your kingdom through your name with brothers, our sisters, who walked along with Doctor King. God, we’re here to seek to become a seed, like Doctor King and our
nameless brothers and sisters. Let us have faith in your kingdom. Yes, God, it is indeed
that faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurances about what we do not see. Even as we are frightened and exhausted, let us rise again as a seed;
as we celebrate together here, let us share a seed of hope. Help us to find the seed of
hope from each other, God. Have mercy upon us, Lord, amen. – Good afternoon. – [Audience Members] Good afternoon. – We’ll try that again; we
like a little interaction, so. Good afternoon. – [Audience Members] Good afternoon! – We are elated as the Gospel Choir to have an opportunity to participate in this multi-faith service celebration of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. The first selection we’re going to sing is kind of a prophetic and profound acknowledgement of a state that Doctor King realized that
there was a need for change. In essence, a need for the land to heal. Join us as we sing the selection that summons us to heal the land. As was said in the prayer,
innocent blood is shed. We live in a time where
not only was it true then, but it’s true even more today, that there’s a need for the land to heal. So, “Heal the Land.” (murmuring) (drums ticking) (soulful music and vocalizing) ♪ Innocent blood ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ So much killing ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ People are dying ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ There is hatred ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ There is strife ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ I would love ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is, my prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is, my prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ Sun it shines ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ Times are just ♪ ♪ But not in the land ♪ ♪ Games are only a problem ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is ♪ ♪ Heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is, my prayer is ♪ ♪ Heal the land, to heal the land ♪ ♪ Leads you to it ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is, my prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ So much crisis ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ There’s no peace ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ There is no love ♪ ♪ In the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is, heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ Heal the land, heal the land ♪ ♪ My prayer is ♪ ♪ To heal the land ♪ (audience applauds) – Good afternoon. – [Audience Members] Good afternoon. – Awesome, thank you
so much, Gospel Choir. That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you all so much for being here. My name is Jonathan, I
am a ’20, a senior here at Dartmouth College, and
it’s absolutely just an honor to be speaking at such a fantastic and amazing event here today. I would like to start by sharing a line from the Jewish oral
tradition, the Talmud, that focuses on one of
the lesser-known figures in the Hebrew scripture,
Nachshon Ben Aminadav. Now, if we were to just
read through the Bible, we might see Nachshon’s name referenced to various lineages, such as Nachshon the son of Aminodov, the son of so and so, the father of so and so,
and really nothing else. However, when we take
a look at the Talmud, and we look at that one line, we see that Nachshon was not
just an inconsequential name that we might just read past. Rather, he was one of the
most important figures in the splitting of the Red Sea story during the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. In the tractate of the
Talmud, Sotah, page 37a, the Rabbis were discussing which tribe was the first tribe to
enter the yet un-split sea, as the Egyptians were
pressing in behind them. After all, it’s a great honor to show your faith in God by taking
a literal leap of faith into a yet un-split sea. And so they were literally
fighting for that honor. And the Talmud continues
with the following line: (speaking in Hebrew) Rabbi Yehuda said to Rabbi Meir,
“That’s not what happened.” Ella, (speaking in Hebrew) one tribe said to the other, “I will not be the first
one to enter the sea.” (speaking in Hebrew) The other tribe said to the other, “I will not be the first
one to enter the sea,” and none of the tribes were willing to be the first one to
take that very first step into the yet un-split sea. (speaking in Hebrew) Nachshon Ben Aminadav sprang forward and was the first one to enter the sea. And it is later said that because Nachshon took that first step, the sea
split for the Jewish people, and they were able to escape from Egypt and the Egyptians. Now, Nachshon didn’t spend his entire life preparing to take a step into
an un-split body of water, hoping that they could make it through it. And I find it a little bit hard to believe that he could’ve known and foreseen that this would be the key
defining moment in his life. And yet, it was Nachshon’s
willingness to take that first step, to see a
problem and move towards it with no hesitation that caused the rest of the Jewish people to move with him. To rise together in the
face of the impossible. A literal body of water, and believed that they too can move through it. It’s not hard to draw the connection to Martin Luther King Junior. He was a man also faced with
his own Red Sea problem. An impossible challenge, so
large that any sane person would put their head down and hope that someone else could solve it. Much like the other tribes,
hoping that someone else would jump into the sea first. And yet, just like Nachshon,
even though he hadn’t spent his life specifically
preparing to lead a movement, when presented with the opportunity, he jumped right in and
people followed behind him. On a personal note, I find
this story both motivational and reassuring, for as
long as I can remember, my life goal has been
to do the most amount of good for the most amount of people. And for as long as I can remember, that has remained
relatively vague and unclear on what that actually is
going to mean for my life. I try my best to be a good
person, to do good things, to make other people laugh and smile; to surround myself with other good people; to engage in good activities. And right now, looking
for a career that is good. (audience chuckles) And all the same, I have no idea what that will culminate in. And so I love this story because for me, the message is that you don’t need to know what your ultimate goal
in life is going to be. And ultimately, you might
not really get a chance to choose what that goal will be. The message to me is that, you just need to be prepared,
so that when you are faced with your Red Sea moment,
you take the plunge. Not just that, but when you do, you won’t need to handle
it or face it alone. It only takes one person
to take that first step, to pave the way for
others to rise together. And so my hope, prayer, request, for all of us here today is that when our Red Sea moment comes, and we have the opportunity
to do something good, no matter how large or small
in scale that good thing is, we take the lesson from Nachshon, from Martin Luther King Junior, and we take that first
step and jump right in. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Hi, I’m Katrina, I’m a ’21. And I grew up as a Catholic in Hong Kong. So, Reverend King tells us that the arch of moral justice is long, but it bends towards justice. I find these words very powerful. The idea that change is a struggle and it’s slow and it’s a steady process, but it can be optimistic. So, in reflecting on the
theme of rising together, I was drawn especially
to a verse in the Bible from the Prophet Micah. It says: He has shown you,
oh mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. This verse reminds us that
beyond recognizing what is just, we need to act on what is just. To me, humbly is a key word here. Reminding us to put down
our pride and realize that we are all equal before God. So I believe that this
call to walk with God is also a call to walk with
those who are most vulnerable: The weak, the marginalized. Now, climate change is a justice issue that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable communities, who have the least access to resources. Just to name an example,
our brothers and sisters all across the world are
facing severe droughts. And as we think about
justice and love action, let us see our role in supporting people in these vulnerable situations. Supporting the locals who are already building systems of resilience. Doctor King embodied
the teachings of Micah when he showed us that change can happen when we love one another
through our actions. So, I’d like to conclude
with a short prayer. May God continue to give
us clarity on what is just, and may we feel His
presence as we rise together to care for our planet
and for one another, in our pursuit of justice,
humility, and mercy. Thank you. (audience applauding) (speaks in Arabic) – Peace to our Gospel Choir, Reverend Brooks, the students, the amazing students
sharing their stories, as well with me. And to everyone here. My name is Adul, I’m a junior from Boston. We’re gathered here today, this afternoon to celebrate the legacy of someone who has inspired many groups. Just to name a few: Americans,
immigrants, minorities. I happen to belong to
all three of those groups as an Indian-American Muslim. (chuckles)
(audience laughs) I’d like to begin right
away by sharing a passage from the book of my people, the Koran. It’s a passage that to
me embodies the idea of rising together;
it’s from Chapter Three. It’s in Arabic, Chapter
Three is called Surah Imran. And this is specifically verse 103. God states: (speaks in Arabic) (speaking in Arabic) In English, that roughly translates to: And hold fast all together
by the rope of God, and be not divided. And remember the favor of God,
which He bestowed upon you and your enemies, and He
united your hearts in love so that by His grace you
became as sisters and brothers. The verse goes on to say that: He saved you, thus does God
explain to you His commandments that you may be guided by. That concludes the verse. To me, God reminds us that
even though we might be very divided today, we were
born with this amazing ability to care and love for our
brothers and sisters, even if we don’t, you know,
know them quite that well yet. Maybe we know them on the surface. I feel like, you know, this
gives us a lot to think about for Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, who desired to build
bridges that unify mankind. And also reminds me of
one of my other heroes, the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, who also aspired for a whole community, bound together in peace. Mankind bound together in peace. Now it’s a blessing to be alive, to have money, education, mom and dad checking in on me every day. The last one, family,
grounds me to my past. It’s a special community to be a part of, being a first-generation immigrant. As it connects me to my
culture and my ancestors. As I alluded to, I’m from India;
my parents are from India. India and the United States
are both proud democracies. The beauty of them is definitely
their broad demographics. Followers of Hinduism comprise about 80% of India’s population, while
in no particular order, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jane-ism, and Islam, these comprise the vast
minority of Indians. Given a recent citizenship
law passed by the current administration, yeah, my Muslim
family members over there, little bit worried that
they may not be really welcome in India, for
the time being, at least, there’s some tension. But India is just one of so
many place around the world where there are fellow human beings who are seeking inclusion. In the spirit of rising together in solidarity with all
faiths and all identities, I’ll leave you with Doctor
King’s own kind words: We are all called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for
the victims of our nation, and for those it calls enemy. For no document from human
hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters. So God bless, peace to you all. Thank you. (audience cheers and applauds) – So, in keeping with the theme, I’m going to give you a
chance to literally rise. Which means on this song we’re going to take an opportunity to. You know, when I look at the choir, and many people ask the question, “Is there really still a need to celebrate “this individual, the Reverend
Martin Luther King Junior?” And I said, all you got
to do is look at this. This would not have been possible, this would not be a reality. And while we clearly have
room and much to achieve, I’m grateful that I have the pleasure of leading and directing a
choir as diverse as this. Full of multiple ethnicities,
multiple face streams, gay, strait, bi, non-binary,
everything on this choir. And that’s part of the reason that Doctor King’s life is listed. So, on this song, so this
is our get up and clap on beats two and four. (laughing) I don’t want to get in trouble. Two and four, thank you. We want you to stand up
and join us and celebrate. (mic reverberates) Spooked you a little! So please bow with me,
the best is yet to come. Join us on this, feel free. (murmuring) But you don’t have to. (audience laughs) (upbeat music) This is “Hold On My Brother, “Hold on My Sister.” Yeah, please clap y’all’s hands. (clapping)
And if you want to rock back and forth, you can too. (upbeat music)
(audience clapping) Do the clap. ♪ Whoa whoa now ♪ ♪ Come on hold on my brothers ♪ ♪ Hold on my brothers don’t give up ♪ ♪ Hold on my sisters ♪ ♪ Hold on my sisters just look up ♪ ♪ There is master, there is a
master plan in store for you ♪ ♪ If you just make it through ♪ ♪ You see how it’s going to pull you out ♪ ♪ God’s going to be there for your mind ♪ ♪ Let’s hear it, it’s going
to make it worth your time ♪ ♪ For all of the trouble
you’ve been through ♪ ♪ The blessing’s double just for you ♪ ♪ The best, mm hmm, the best is what ♪ ♪ Is yet to come, to come ♪ ♪ The best, yes it is ♪ ♪ The best is yet to come ♪ ♪ Today is the first day ♪ ♪ Today is the first day of
the best days of your life ♪ ♪ You all got ’em rocking
out there I think ♪ ♪ Today is the first day of
the best days of your life ♪ ♪ Yes it is, yes it is ♪ ♪ Today is the first day of
the best days of your life ♪ ♪ ‘Cause the best, the best, yes it is ♪ ♪ Is yet, is what, to come ♪ ♪ The best ♪ ♪ Come on you all, the best ♪ ♪ The best is yet to come ♪ – [Walter] Now here’s my favorite part. In keeping with this holiday,
we’re going to tell you that you ain’t seen nothing yet. Do you believe that? You can talk back to
me, do you believe that? (audience cheers)
Uh huh, yeah! Come on, you all! ♪ Yes, you ain’t ♪ ♪ You ain’t, you ain’t seen ♪ ♪ Seen nothing, no, you
ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ No, no, no, no, no, no, you ain’t ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen nothing, yeah ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen, you ain’t ♪ ♪ Nor have I, seen nothing ♪ ♪ No, you ain’t seen nothing, no ♪ ♪ Yes, you ain’t, you ain’t seen nothing ♪ ♪ Yeah, you ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ Oh, you ain’t ♪ ♪ Yeah, seen nothing, you
ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ You ain’t, you ain’t seen nothing ♪ ♪ Yeah, you ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ You ain’t, you ain’t seen nothing ♪ ♪ Yeah, you ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ You all don’t get
tired on me, you ain’t ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen, seen nothing ♪ ♪ You, you ain’t seen nothing ♪ ♪ Whoa, yet, you ain’t, you ain’t seen ♪ ♪ Seen nothing, no, you
ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen nothing ♪ ♪ You ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ ♪ Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet ♪ (audience cheers and applauds) – Our Gospel Choir is amazing. Wow, thank you so much. So hello, I’m Leslie Hernandez. I’m a ’20, and I would like to start with a thank you for
giving me the opportunity to use this space productively. I actually come here everyday to nap. (chuckles)
(audience laughs) If you’re wondering where
exactly I nap in here, I can assure you you’re not in my spot. Yesterday marks a two-year anniversary of receiving a text message from one of my role models, Layla Alvarez. I opened the message, right
in that corner over there. Layla in one word would describe herself as being undocumented. To her, her human dignity was stripped the moment she lacked a piece of paper. And yet she found that to be her strength. She reasoned, my existence doesn’t matter, so nothing is truly a risk. However, in our community we knew her as someone who gave her whole life force to every cause imaginable. She was a pillar of support
to anyone that needed her. She taught me the
importance of solidarity. That showing support is
not actually the risk. The risk is in not doing anything. Which is why the text
I chose was a telegram that Doctor King sent to Caesar Chavez during one of Caesar
Chavez’s decade-long fights for farm-worker rights. In the telegram, Doctor
King was able to showcase what support looked like. And Doctor King wrote: As brothers in the fight for equality, I extend the hand of
fellowship and goodwill and wish continued success
to you and your members, you and your valiant fellow workers, that have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs
forced on exploited people. We are together with you
in spirit and determination that our dreams for a better
tomorrow will be realized. Sorry, the acknowledgment
of someone’s existence, someone’s struggle, someone’s
fight, is important. Because it’s very easy for
this work to go unnoticed. And it’s very easy for our
role models to seem invincible. Oftentimes when I think of
Layla or other brave advocates, I forget that they’re just like us. And that they’re forced to take the brunt of the weight of the human
struggle and suffering. We think of their sacrifice as
a superpower of invincibility to take blows for us, but
we forget that rising up is not only about standing shoulder to shoulder on the front lines. It’s also supporting our communities that have been fighting on our behalf. Waiting for us to notice,
and waiting for us to support them because regardless of your state, your existence does matter. And once you find your cause, like Layla, and you actually join,
don’t forget to acknowledge and support the work of those around you as Doctor King did with Caesar Chavez. Because support goes a long way. So, yesterday marked
the two-year anniversary in that corner, of receiving
Layla’s last text message before she passed away. She wrote: Thank you for everything you do and everything you’re going to do. Those words are meant
to keep me accountable and today I share those words with you to hold you accountable. Thank you. (audience cheers and applauds) (coughs) – Hello all, my name is Saraj. I’m a ’22 at Dartmouth,
which means I am a sophomore. And today I’ll be reading a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, one
of Hinduisms central texts. So, the Bhagavad Gita is
actually one of Hinduisms central texts and it acts
as a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his guide Krishna. The conversations between
the two cover topics from the importance of Dharma to the call for selfless action. Today I will be reading
Chapter 12, verses 13 and 14. (speaking in Hindi) He who has let go of hatred, who treats all being with
compassion and kindness, who is always serving,
unmoved by pain or pleasure, free of the eye and mind, self controlled, firm and patient, his whole mind focused on me. That is the man I love best. So I really think this
passage underscores the need for people to let go of hatred
and instead embrace kindness. The need for people to
look beyond themselves; the need for people to remain resilient in the face of both pain and pleasure. The need for people to free themselves from the shackles of ego and selfishness. A world plagued by hate is
a world plagued by fear. And it is fear that creates
division and disharmony. In a climate like today’s, the responsibility falls
on each and every one of us to take action against injustices
committed against others. Martin Luther King
Junior not only dreamed, but worked towards
materializing his dreams. He knew he wasn’t acting in isolation. He knew that he was a domino
and that we were all dominoes. And that it only took a few resilient ones to create long-lasting change. Like Reverend King, we must internalize that we are not alone,
that we are dominoes capable of widespread change. We must rise together to expel fear, to embrace kindness, to let go of hatred and spread compassion. These same teachings can
be found in the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah, among other texts. These were the teachings of Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. Teachings found in
movements like Gandhi’s, and echoed down through history. With this I conclude: May we rise together to expel fear, to embrace kindness, to let go of hatred and to spread compassion. Thank you. (audience applauds) – So how’s everyone doing? (laughs) Hi, my name Owado, I’m a ’22. Which means I’m a sophomore, cool. And today I hope to share with you my interpretation of Doctor
King’s text “I Have a Dream.” I’m also sort of attempting to make a call to the ancestors in that. So I hope you all enjoy this. (chuckles) So. An open letter to the late Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. It was not too long ago that
you stood at the Memorial of another white man who
probably would have enslaved you. Looking out into the
mass of black and white you invited us to hear your
words and to watch your vision and to dream with you, too. You spoke. I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream, that one day
on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves, and the sons of former slave-owners will
be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream, my four little children will
one day live in a nation where they will not be judged
by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted. Every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain. And the crooked places
will be made straight. And the glory of the
Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Doctor King, it is with great displeasure to inform you that
although change has come, it has yet to be enough to
buy us out of this mess. Division is the sweet melatonin
that has kept us sleeping since you gave that speech in ’63. We have become so comfortable
in our deep slumber of complacency that we have forgotten that in order to convert
your dreams into reality you must wake up and smell the stagnation. That means that by any means necessary, which means by all the means possible. We must seek to curb
our systemic damnation, that same damnation that
stems from the black ink pen in a white man’s hand. That same damnation
that nurtures and rears a rather inevitable frustration among us, a black congregation. In the same way that we
bring praise to the ancestors for visiting us in spirit, we
must also bring recognition to the ancestors for
revisiting us in tragedy. I am certain that before Trayvon
became an angel too soon, he spent his last living
moments holding hands with the spirit of Emmett Till. He was not afraid when he
looked into the eyes of Till, because Till was so recognizable. Like a story that had been
told many times before. Like a nighttime melody
that had already been sung many times before. Like a life that had
already been lived too short many times before. Trayvon was not afraid when he
looked into the eyes of Till, because he saw himself; he saw you; he saw us. I am certain that the cause
of our restless nights is your spirit attempting
to wake us up from sleep. Because dreams can only work
towards becoming a reality if there is action. And it doesn’t just need to
be movement in your feet. We don’t need to always
take to the streets. Our liberation can come
through loving one another and rising up together. Maybe our liberation comes from our poetry or even just sitting down
together in a room like this. As long as we never stop moving, I am confident that
those dreams you spoke of can become our reality. Thank you. (audience applauds and cheers) – Oh, well. It’s, my name is Gando Alan Field. And I lead a Zen Buddhist practice group
at Dartmouth on the campus. It is my pleasure to be
here and lend my voice to this enterprise. The Zen tradition does not
include a gospel choir. (audience laughs)
(chuckles) But I want to say that if we rise up
together, we also have much to learn from each other. It’s my honor to introduce
our speaker today, the Reverend Professor Cornell Brooks. Cornell Brooks is
professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also Director of
the William Monroe Trotter collaborative for social justice, at the school’s Center
for Public Leadership. And visiting professor of the practice of Prophetic Religion
and Public Leadership at Harvard Divinity School. Brooks is the former President and CEO of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, a civil rights lawyer,
and an ordained minister. Brooks was most recently
visiting professor of social ethics, law,
and justice movements at Boston University’s School
of Law and School of Theology. He was a visiting professor and director of the Campaign and Advocacy program at the Kennedy School’s
Institute of Politics in 2017. Cornell Brooks served
as the 18th President of the NAACP from 2014 to 2017. Under his leadership, the
NAACP secured 12 significant legal victories including
laying the groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering. He also reinvigorated the
activist/social justice heritage of the NAACP, dramatically
increasing membership, particularly online and among Millennials. Among the many demonstrations,
from Ferguson to Flint during his tenure, he conceived and led America’s Journey for Justice march from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C. over 40 days and 1000 miles. Prior to leading the NAACP, Cornell Brooks was President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute
for Social Justice, where he led the passage of
pioneering criminal justice reform and housing legislation. Six bills in less than five years. He also served as senior council and acting Director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission. Executive Director of
the Fair Housing Council of greater Washington,
and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee
of Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice. Cornell Brooks served as judicial clerk for Chief Judge Sam J. Irvin III on the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit. Cornell Brooks holds a
J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was senior editor
of the Yale Law Journal. And member of the Yale
Law and Policy Review. And a Master of Divinity
from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King Junior scholar. He is the recipient of
several honorary doctorates, including Boston University,
Drexel University, Saint Paul’s University, and
Payne Theological Seminary, as well as the highest alumni
awards from Boston University and Boston University School of Theology. He also holds a BA from
Jackson State University. He is a fourth-generation
ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Please welcome Reverend
Professor Cornell Brooks. (audience applauds) – Join us as we sing this song, “Doctor King Letter From Jail.” (mellow piano music) ♪ What else is there to do ♪ ♪ When you are alone
for days in the dark ♪ ♪ But not me in this narrow jail ♪ ♪ Other than write long letters ♪ ♪ Think strange thoughts,
and pray long prayers ♪ ♪ I have known despair ♪ ♪ We will reach the dawn
of freedom in Birmingham ♪ ♪ And all over the nation ♪ ♪ Because the goal of America is freedom ♪ ♪ Confusion’s gone though it may be ♪ ♪ Our destiny is tied up ♪ ♪ With the destiny of America ♪ ♪ King writes ♪ ♪ I am in Birmingham ♪ ♪ Because injustice is too big ♪ ♪ I too am compelled ♪ ♪ To carry the gospel of freedom ♪ ♪ King asks ♪ ♪ Are you able to endure ♪ ♪ The ordeals of jail ♪ (mellow piano music) (vocalizing) ♪ What else is there to do ♪ ♪ When you are alone
for days in the dark ♪ ♪ But not me in this narrow jail ♪ ♪ Other than write long letters ♪ ♪ Think strange thoughts,
and pray long prayers ♪ ♪ I have known despair ♪ ♪ We will reach the dawn
of freedom in Birmingham ♪ ♪ And all over the nation ♪ ♪ Because the goal of America is freedom ♪ ♪ Confusion’s gone though it may be ♪ ♪ Our destiny is tied up ♪ ♪ With the destiny of America ♪ ♪ King writes ♪ ♪ I am in Birmingham ♪ ♪ Because injustice is too big ♪ ♪ I too am compelled ♪ ♪ To carry the gospel of freedom ♪ ♪ King asks ♪ ♪ Are you able to endure ♪ ♪ The ordeals of jail ♪ ♪ King writes ♪ ♪ I am in Birmingham ♪ ♪ Because injustice is here ♪ ♪ I too am compelled ♪ ♪ I too am compelled to
carry the gospel of freedom ♪ ♪ King asks ♪ ♪ Are you able to endure ♪ ♪ The ordeals of jail ♪ (mellow piano music) ♪ In a narrow Birmingham jail ♪ ♪ King writes long letters ♪ ♪ King thinks strange thoughts ♪ ♪ In a narrow Birmingham jail ♪ ♪ King writes long letters ♪ ♪ King thinks strange thoughts ♪ ♪ In a narrow Birmingham jail ♪ ♪ King writes long letters ♪ ♪ King thinks strange thoughts ♪ ♪ In a narrow Birmingham jail ♪ ♪ King writes long letters ♪ ♪ King thinks strange thoughts ♪ (vocalizing)
(mellow piano music) (audience applauds) – Good afternoon. – [Audience Members] Good afternoon. – In the course of my travels as a civil rights attorney
and as an ordained minister, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of great choirs. The first type of choir makes speaking and preaching easier. The second type of great choir
makes preaching and speaking ultimately far more difficult.
(audience chuckles) It is my great challenge to
follow the second type choir. Can you put your hands together for the Dartmouth Gospel Choir. (claps) (audience cheers and applauds) To the President, to the Provost, the faculty, administrators, members of the community. Certainly the staff of the Tucker Center, this chapel, these extraordinary students. The sponsors of this
incredible commemoration. To all of you I simply express
these words: Thank you. Thank you for allowing
me to be in the midst of this beautiful and powerful community. Now, if you think it not robbery, I’d like for you to just
consider all the musicians, all the speakers, all
of the committee members who have planned and
deliberated and organized to bring us together in this sacred space at this sacred moment. And if you contemplate all
the work that has been done, all of the sweat equity invested
in this liturgical moment, and if that fills you with a
profound sense of gratitude, I want you to put your
hands together loud, long, and resoundingly for everybody who’s worked so hard for us
to be here today. (claps) (audience applauding) I’m so thankful to Rabbi
Litwin and her staff and all of the religious advisors
who’ve brought us together for this incredible moment. I can tell you that it’s
been my good fortune to receive a few invitations now and then to come and to partake
in a worship experience, a commemoration experience. But on this particular occasion, when the Rabbi called, I
just happened to be next to the phone; I picked up the phone and I can just tell you, as
one clergy person to another, be careful when you take
a call from a Rabbi. (audience laughs)
There’s no escape hatch. There’s no out-clause. And so by the time I hung up the phone, I’d said yes before fully
checking the calendar. But we’re here!
(audience laughs) I’m so grateful to be in this chapel because I’ve not always been so fortunate to be in the midst of such an august body. And because I believe
you all to be a discrete kind of congregation,
I’ll ask that you keep this story in house, it’s a true story. I’ve not always been so
fortunate to be in the midst of such a distinguished and
sophisticated and august group of people, in fact, I can think of a time many years ago when
I found myself as a student, in London, England, on a Sunday morning. And I found myself as a
young seminary student in London, England, on a Sunday morning, standing outside of this
beautiful Gothic cathedral. And as a young, innocent,
presumptuous preacher, I suppose and presuppose that
there were about 2000 or so people inside of this Gothic cathedral, waiting to hear this young,
presumptuous preacher preach. Now, I made my way into
the sanctuary, Rabbi, and I immediately noticed the obvious. The pastor, and exactly two members. One member I’ll call, Miss Jones. The other member I’ll call, Miss Smith. This is a true story. The pastor invited me to ascend the pulpit. This rather august
affair, two stories high. I ascended the pulpit
and I began to speak, began to preach, and I
immediately noticed the obvious, that Miss Jones immediately fell asleep. (audience laughs)
True story. Now this inspired me to speak with even greater fervor. And as I began to speak,
I noticed that Miss Smith seemed to hang on to
every word I had to say. She tapped her toes,
she clapped her hands, she nodded her head at all
the right liturgical moments. She said Amen and Hallelujah,
and I thought to myself, “At least I’m reaching one
somebody this Sunday morning.” True story. I came out of the pulpit, made my way to the side of the pastor,
and the pastor said to me, “Brother Brooks, I’m just so sorry. “Miss Jones falls asleep on everybody. “And Miss Smith is out of her mind, “and literally did not understand
a thing you had to say.” (audience laughs) I don’t think the pastor
was being ableist. Perhaps he was commenting on the status of my speaking and preaching. But you can see why I’m so delighted to be in the midst of such
an august body on this day. We find ourselves this afternoon seated in this wooded and beautifully illuminated chapel, on this extraordinarily
morally poignant moment, recognizing and celebrating
the life and legacy, words and work, of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. We find ourselves in this
morally poignant moment, infused with all the
confrontations and the challenges of this time in American history. We find ourselves in the midst of an anguishing hour. Of generationally unprecedented
levels of activism. From Ferguson to Flint, from
Baltimore to Washington, from L.A. to New York,
even here in Hanover. We find ourselves in the midst of this anguishing hour of activism, in which a
generation of students have declared with their
hearts, with their minds and their bodies, that black lives matter! Understanding profoundly
that black lives matter is the ethical predicate
to the moral conclusion that all lives matter;
unless the first is true, the second will never be true. We find ourselves in the midst of this anguishing hour of activism, in which a generation of students have led the nation and
yet are leading the world in their belief, in the proposition that now is the time to pursue right. Now is the time to do
right by our neighbor. Now is the time for us to
seek justice in our time because it is our time. This is an anguishing moment in which we find ourselves. Students have translated
and transliterated the words of William
Shakespeare by yet declaring: Now is the winter of our discontent. We will no longer be satisfied
with an overheated planet, precipitating geologic gentrification. Where poor people are scrambling for resources in the Southern hemisphere. Where poor people are
yet trying to figure out what their futures will be. This is an anguishing moment in which we have a generation of students plumbing the depths of Doctor
King’s moral philosophy, seeking answers; how do
we speak to this moment? How do we stand up? How do we sit down? How do we kneel? How do we speak to the
challenges of our Twitter-age, Civil Rights movement? And this day, I want to modestly suggest to you that we turn to those ancient words of inspiration that he turned to, found in the book of, the Books of the Prophets. Namely the Book of Isaiah. When we turn to the Book of Isaiah, in the Sixth Chapter, we find these words so familiar to Doctor King. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a
throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his
robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim,
each had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two he covered his feet. With two he flew. And one cried, one to another and said, “Holy, holy! “Holy is the Lord of Hosts! “The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out. And the house was filled with smoke. So I said, “Woe is me, for I am undone “because I’m a man of unclean lips “and I dwell in the midst of
a people with unclean lips. “For my eyes have seen the
King, the Lord of the Hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live
coal, which he had taken with tongs from the alter. And he touched my mouth
with it and said, “Behold! “This has touched your lips;
your inequity is taken away. “Your sins are purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? “Who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I. “Send me. “Here am I, send me.” On this commemoration
sabbath of social justice, we have a generation of students, faculty, staff, citizens, residents of this world house who are yet saying, “Here am I, send me. “Here am I, send me.” And just for a few moments, I just want to lift up two
lessons that might speak to us in the midst of this Twitter-age Civil Rights movement. Those lessons might be
characterized thusly. There can be no moral ambition
without moral humility. There can be no moral ambition without moral humility. And the second lesson that I think speaks to us from this text,
and from the eloquence of the example of Doctor King, is there is no Me without We. There’s no Me without We, or rather, there’s no Me without We. You recall that the Prophet
Isaiah is the greatest among the Prophets. He stands like a Titan, if
you will, in the scriptures. The Book of Isaiah serves as
a kind of scriptural bridge, if you will, between
Christianity and Judaism. You recall that Jesus in the Book of Luke invokes the Book of Isaiah
when he begins his ministry. This text speaks to a
generation of students, faculty, and staff,
residents of a world house, citizens of this country and
countries around the world who are yet wondering, “Are
we prophets in our time?” You recall in this text, the Prophet, when called upon by God, when issued a command, an interrogative
responsibility, “Who shall go?” He first contemplates his own inadequacy, his own prospective
incompetence as a prophet. Perhaps you have found and have felt that sense of inadequacy
in this face of injustice. When you contemplate the sweeping dimensions of climate change, perhaps you feel inadequate. When you contemplate Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Ferlando Castillo, Sandra Bland, and name after name, hashtag after hashtag on the ignoble role of police brutality,
maybe you feel inadequate. Maybe you feel inadequate
when you consider the evils of the criminal justice system, 2.2 million Americans behind bars, 70 million Americans
with criminal records. One million fathers behind bars. And entire generation criminalized from the day of their birth. Maybe you feel inadequate. The Prophet considers his own inadequacy when he declares, “I have unclean lips.” How do you speak for God
when you have unclean lips? How can you be a prophet
when you are unable to speak with the moral
purity and purity of purpose demanded by a God who
represents perfection, and yet who represents
compassion for the imperfect, the broken, and the fallen? Perhaps it would be good to consider. Doctor King is a prophet. We recall that Doctor King had a PHD in systematic theology and social ethics. We recall that Doctor King
went to college at 15, won a Nobel Prize before he turned 40. You recall that Doctor King was a multi-linguist, if you will. In terms of the disciplines of literature and history and sociology
and systematic theology and social ethics, but do you
also recall that Doctor King, among all the As on all of
his transcripts had two Cs in graduate school in public speaking. (audience laughs) When you contemplate your own brokenness, your own fallenness, your own inadequacies and prospective incompetence,
might you consider, that Doctor King was
one who inspired faith, inspired courage, inspired
people to risk their lives for justice, and yet he
wrestled with the demons of self doubt and suicide. You recall in the last year of his life, that he is, his popularity
ratings, his poll ratings were less than the occupant
of the White House. You recall that Doctor
King, in the last year of his life was so, so, so suicidal. His friends and colleagues suggested that he take a much needed,
much delayed vacation. You recall that he spent
some time in Mexico, looking out on the Gulf of Mexico. His friend, the Reverend
Ralph David Abernathy noticed that Martin was missing
in the middle of the night, and he began to grow fearful of the state of Doctor King’s mental well-being. So he went and looked for Doctor King, and Doctor King, who had
gone through all manner of trouble and travail,
Doctor King who was encouraged to take his life by no less
an entity than the F.B.I. and J. Edgar Hoover. Doctor King who was blackmailed,
who’s family was subject to persecution and
prospective prosecution, that Doctor King! In the throws of suicidal
thoughts and self-doubt, that Doctor King was up
in the midnight hour. And Reverend Ralph David
Abernathy found Doctor King in his pajamas, looking out
over the Gulf of Mexico. And in that moment of doubt his friend asked him,
“Why are you out here “in the middle of the night?” And he simply looked at the water, looked at a rock jutting above the water, and he had declared, “Rock of ages, “cleft for me, oh let
me hide myself in thee.” I simply want to suggest
to you this afternoon that your faith, however you call God, is your rock and your anchor. Your faith gives you the confidence to stand in the face of injustice. Lest you think that this
is hypothetical theology. May I remind you that in Ferguson, yes I discovered
70-year-olds and 80-year olds and 50-year-olds who
were willing to march. But I also discovered
15-year-olds and 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who faced tear gas, who faced a militarized
police, and they kept marching. Why? Because they believed that
what they were doing was right. I want to suggest to you
that you need moral humility. It’s okay to admit that you
don’t have all the answers. It’s okay to admit that you may not be up to the task by yourself. It’s okay to admit that
you might need a minister or Rabbi or priest or brother or sister, or friend or professor, or roommate, somebody to hold your hand! You see because moral
humility is the predicate to moral ambition. God’s great prophets know
that they have to rely on God. And so when we gather in this chapel, and we feel the power in this room, we feel God moving in our midst, placing His hand on our bodies, our minds, our souls. Even though we feel inadequate, we know we are up to the task. Moral humility is a predicate
to great moral ambitions. Doctor King, self-doubting,
Doctor King, suicidal. Doctor King, despairing and
despondent, yet believed he can change the moral
trajectory of the world. You in the midst of your self-doubt, you in the midst of your negative mindset, don’t you leave; you
can change this world. Don’t you believe you can
set Dartmouth on fire? Don’t you believe? That everything that you
read in your Holy books might be true? That God is your co-creator. And that if a young
Doctor King did all he did with what little he
had, at the age he was, what more can you do at your age with all that you’ve been given? Second lesson of this text. Is there is a way behind me. On these commemoration occasions, we celebrate Doctor King as a sole and singular prophet. We lift him up, we laud
his accomplishments. But we understand that prophets
don’t travel by themselves. You recall we discussed
that Isaiah is considered the greatest among all the prophets. The Book of Isaiah is a, almost a sui generis piece
of prophetic literature. It is powerful, it’s
beautiful, it is stirring, it is noble, but it was
not written by one person. Prophets travel in schools. So here at Dartmouth, I’m
speaking to a school of prophets, who research together,
who analyze together, who write together, who protest together. There is a way behind me. I can tell this point has escaped you. Consider Doctor King. Yes, he led the Montgomery Boycott. Yes, he had a PHD in systematic theology, but who was the We behind Me? History tells us that Rosa
Parks and Claudette Colvin laid the foundation for
the Montgomery Boycott. But keep going further back. We recall that Rosa Parks, 10 years before the Montgomery Boycott, attended the Highlander Folk
Citizenship Training School in Tennessee; the
mild-mannered, the timid, the shy, the reserved
seamstress from Montgomery was a firebrand radical! Let’s get the history right. We will recall that Claudette
Colvin, the teenager, the rebellious teenager,
yes whom the police and the bus driver said
she fought like a hell cat resisting segregation. But think about Rosa Parks. 10 years before the Montgomery Boycott there was a woman by
the name of Recy Taylor who was sexually assaulted,
as in gang-raped, by six white men, on the way home from church near midnight. For those of you who are
familiar with the black church tradition, when you are
at church near midnight, and it’s not on a
Sunday, that’s a revival. And a revival, you’re there to praise God. So she leaves a house of prayer and praise and she’s sexually assaulted! This young, mother… makes her way home, knowing the race of her attackers, does she flinch? Does she shrink in the face
of unimaginable brutality? No, she stands up! And Rosa Parks, before
rape-crisis centers, before CSI, Rosa Parks goes to Abbeyville, Alabama to this woman’s side,
and they form committees for the defense of Miss Recy Taylor. Now, why is that important? It’s important in terms of
standing against misogyny. It’s important in terms of
standing against patriarchy. It’s important in terms of
standing against sexual violence, but it’s important in
terms of the movement for social justice. Why? Because when all of those
women organize those committees for the defense of Miss Recy Taylor, they built the infrastructure
and the architecture for the modern Civil Rights movement. Behind the Me is a We! (audience applauds) How dare you call the names of the men and not call the under
counted and uncalled names of the woman? (audience applauds) Somebody’s wondering
today, “Who’s behind me?” May I suggest to you, behind you, Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah and the prophets. Behind you, all the student
leaders of the past. Yes, you know the elder statesman, John Lewis, but do you
recall the elder statesman who was the firebrand? John Lewis the elder statesman, the consciousness of Congress? Who when he was 17 wrote
letter after letter after letter to the Reverend
Doctor Martin Luther King, asking Doctor King to
address the segregation and the discrimination in his hometown. You recall John Lewis,
yes the elder statesman who was so radical, so unpredictable, that on the March on Washington, they insisted upon
editing and proof-reading and censoring his speech,
not Doctor King’s speech. Behind you are some radicals, some student leaders who
have guts and courage. So every time you take up
a social justice challenge, whether it be in the
library or on the street, you’ve got this moral lineage
and legacy behind you. Last little point here, then I got to close and go home. (audience laughs) Can I confess to you? In my work as a civil rights leader, occasionally my vocabulary
utterly fails me. And so, I was flying back to Baltimore, Maryland after Freddie Gray was killed, and the news reports early
on were not encouraging. There were establishments
that were looted and burned. There was chaos and tumult
on the streets in Baltimore. And I knew that once
I flew from California and landed in Baltimore,
some smart reporter from MSNBC or CNN would ask me, “Well, what do you say about the violence “of these young people? “What do you say about
these riots in the streets? “What do you say about
the lack of control, “the lack of discipline of these black, “Black Lives Matter activists?” And so I searched my vocabulary. How do we describe what
was happening in Baltimore? What was happening in Flint? What was happening all across the country? What word would you use? Do we want to describe this as a riot? It occurred to me, since 99.9% of the people
were in the streets standing for right, speaking
up for righteousness, calling for justice in the spirit and in the inspiration of the prophets, I decline to call that a riot. I called it a prophetic uprising! (audience applauding) Lest you think that this is a matter of theological exogenic conjecture. Let me remind you, the prophetic uprisings are not unusual in the
history of this country. You recall that slavery extended back to at least 1619. But do you also recall,
that there were at least 250 major slave rebellions? Prophetic uprisings. You recall when Rosa Parks
organized those women in defense of a woman, that
was a prophetic uprising. Selma was a prophetic uprising. Birmingham was a prophetic uprising. Nashville was a prophetic uprising. Baltimore was a prophetic uprising. Flint was a prophetic uprising. New York is a prophetic uprising. Los Angeles is a prophetic uprising. Every town in the country is a
potential prophetic uprising. (audience applauds) March For Our Lives is
a prophetic uprising. The Women’s Marches were
prophetic uprisings. Black Lives Matter is
a prophetic uprising! (audience cheers and applauds) When those schools of prophets
come together to seek justice it’s a prophetic uprising. As I take my seat, with this brief benedictory note. The theme is: We Rise. I want to suggest to you, when
there is a prophetic uprising, it’s a matter of calling to
one another to rise together. You see, when we see children
caged on the borders, and we have professors
going to the borders, studying how to respond to the problem, students volunteering over spring break and over the summer to go
to the aid of immigrants and undocumented folks who are in distress in the midst of our democracy. We are rising! Native American, American
and undocumented American, rising together! When we go to the side of families who are in the throws of grief as a consequence of
unchecked police brutality, we rise together! When people call upon us to stand, Jew and Gentile, on either side of vicious and unchecked hate crimes,
when we come together we rise together! On our college campuses, when there are those who would dismiss our aspirations to be
a more perfect union, as identity politics. Well yes, it may be dismissed as identity politics. We identify as prophets. We identify as Isaiah. We identify as Amos. We identify as Jeremiah. We identify as Martin Luther King. We identify as Rosa Parks. We identify as Claudette Colvin. We identify as Recy Taylor. We identify as Frederick Douglass. We identify with our forebearers
and we will not give up! We will not give in,
we will not turn over! (audience cheers and applauds) We rise together! Because when we rise together, we’re close enough to hold one another, to embrace one another,
to love one another, to serve one another and, to endure together as prophets, in a prophetic and dangerous, at least for the status quo, uprising. Thank you. (audience cheers and applauds) (audience applauding) – Can we get one more round of applause for that inspiring, very inspiring speech. Thank you! (claps)
(audience applauding) I would like first to
thank everyone for coming, everyone who made this event possible. Reverend Brooks for that inspiring speech, everyone who has performed. It’s really inspiring to
be here with you all today. The theme this year is Rise Together, and when I first heard these words I thought they were incredibly
powerful put together. But then I started to think, and I thought about their
meaning on their own. What does rise mean?
What does together mean? And then reflecting on that,
I want to share with you an interpretation I have of each word, through the lens of my faith Sikhism and what this theme means to me. Beginning with Rise, there’s a prayer that is in Sikhism that
Sikhs say every time we go to Gurdwara,
which is our Sikh temple or share a prayer. It says: (speaking in foreign language) In English this translates to Nanak, who is the founder of
Sikhism and our first guru, requesting God to bring well-being, happiness, and positive spirits. And with God’s blessings,
may everyone in the world be in peace and prosper. To me, the central part of that line is (speaks in foreign language) refers to the positive spirits and the highest spirits of
Sikhism that a person’s mind can never despair, never admit defeat, and refuse to be crushed by adversaries. In this high-spirits mindset, this is what overcomes oppression. When our ninth guru, Guru Teg Bahadar, was given the choice to either
cut his head or cut his hair, he chose to cut his head. Because he was true to his faith and he wanted to stand up for others. He knew that in God’s Will
and with that positive-spirits mindset, nothing could touch him, and he would rise over oppression. Now, reflecting on Together. Guru Nanak also once said that, We are all sons and daughters
of Waheguru, the All Mighty. Accept all humans as your equals, and let them be your only sect. Our last guru, Guru Gobind Singh, also said that, recognize all of humanity as a single caste of humanity. In this moment of uncertainty,
division, and hate, my tradition but also my heart urges me to find a way that
humanity can rise together. But what does rise together
mean in this moment? To me, Rise means embodying
the spirit of Chardikla. Fighting injustice no matter
how insurmountable it may seem and how evil it may be. Staying positive, focusing on action, and spreading love in the
face of hate and adversity. We all have different religions, we all have different skin complexions and different identities,
but we breathe the same air and we fight for the same
upright moral values. When someone looks at me and
they see a turban and a beard and they call me a Muslim or a terrorist, I don’t respond by saying, “No, no, no, “I’m not a Muslim,” I respond by saying that I’m a Sikh and American,
the turban and beard are part of my faith,
and that being a Muslim does not mean you’re a terrorist either. I don’t want to throw another
community under the bus just to save my own community. It’s recognizing that brotherhood extends to standing up for others, and standing up for all as one people. So I can make a sacrifice. I might be assaulted
by someone for my look, for my identity, but I’m not
going to throw another community under that and we’re going
to come together to fight it. (audience applauds) So to reiterate that message, in this moment to me, rising together is supporting your fellow man and woman, your fellow human in their times of need and against the forces of oppression that continue to plague our nations and are on the rise in our communities. I pray that we rise together to extinguish the fires of hate and
the embers of division that radiate in more and
more peoples’ souls nowadays. Instead of fanning these
flames with more hate, we can lift up ourselves and others through love, compassion, respect, solidarity, and stepping
up for one another. With a high energy and loving approach, in the name of Chardikla, against hate, we can defeat evil and
truly rise above together. Now, please join me as we
stand and rise together to light our candles as a community, to illuminate our commitment
to Doctor Reverend King’s pursuit of justice,
and to remind ourselves that we each have the
capacity to bring light and hope and dignity to one another. Thank you. (audience applauds) (solemn piano music) ♪ I need you, you need me ♪ ♪ We’re all a part of this body ♪ ♪ You’re with me, agree with me ♪ ♪ We’re all a part of this body ♪ ♪ And it’s the will of
every being is love ♪ ♪ You are important to me,
I need you to survive ♪ ♪ You are important to me,
I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you, you need me ♪ ♪ We’re all a part of this body ♪ ♪ Stand with me, agree with me ♪ ♪ We’re all a part of this body ♪ ♪ It is the will that
every being survive ♪ ♪ You are important to me,
I need you to survive ♪ ♪ You are important to me,
I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I pray for you that you pray for me ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I won’t harm you with
words from my mouth ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I pray for you, you pray for me ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I won’t harm you with
words from my mouth ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I pray for you, you pray for me ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I won’t harm you with
words from my mouth ♪ ♪ I love you, I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I pray for you ♪ ♪ That every need be supplied ♪ ♪ You are important to me ♪ ♪ I need you to survive ♪ (peaceful piano music) ♪ I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you to survive ♪ ♪ I need you to ♪ ♪ Survive ♪ – You can be seated. You can blow your candles out. Or, keep your candles rather, going. We want to, in these moments of our
closure, thank our guest. Thank our students for
their inspiring words. Thank the many people who spent their
time putting this together, for us to be joined. We are grateful. We thank you, the community, who has taken your time to be with us in unity and love this afternoon, in celebration of the many voices of justice, in particular that of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. We are thankful to our sponsors and our guests. And particularly the Church of
Christ at Dartmouth College, who after we’ve spent our
time this afternoon together, we invite you to join us as the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College graciously host us and host our guest, Doctor Brooks, in a reception
following this service. We invite you; we
encourage everyone to come across to the church,
which is out of the doors and to your right, to meet
our honored guest speaker, to meet our student speakers,
to meet our community and join in together conversation,
food, and each other. Let us reflect together. This afternoon we have been reminded not only of the legacy
of Martin Luther King, but the many unknown, lesser-known, often faceless men and women who have worked for a better tomorrow. This afternoon we have
reflected and been reminded of the shared longing for
healing and reconciliation. For our shared desire to belong. For our shared desire
for freedom and justice. This afternoon, we have
been reminded of our awesome and sacred responsibility, to rise up in solidarity
with the oppressed. We have been reminded to raise our voice, to find our voice, our prophetic voice, despite our inadequacies, our unreadiness, our self-doubt. This afternoon we’ve been reminded, that when we see an injustice we should change it with our hands. And when we can’t do
that, we should speak out. And if we can’t do that, it should rest uneasy in our hearts. This afternoon, my hope for all of us is that as we sit in
dialogue with each other, let our hearts be joined. My hope is that as we stand in action, let our hearts be joined. My hope is that as we rise together, in our long march toward a dream-turned-reality, let our hearts be joined. And the best is yet to come. Amen. (blows)

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