On Wesleyan’s campus, January 23rd was a day to remember Martin Luther King Jrs.’ legacy and to work on strategies to keep his legacy alive. Students just back from winter break, faculty, staff, and members of the greater Middletown community gathered together for a day of reflection, learning, and building community.
Dr. Bettina Love, award-winning author and associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia, presented the 12th annual MLK Commemoration’s keynote address titled “What Came Before & After King: Abolitionist Teaching & Life.” During her talk, she focused on the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex. Love is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the area of hip-hop education and is the author of the book We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press).
Prior to the keynote address, Love hosted a workshop in the Center for African-American Studies titled Respect the Process: Examining Our Social Justice Perspectives. The workshop centered on helping students and educators with the process of acknowledging, reflecting, critiquing, and moving toward practical goals to challenge and transform social injustices within the classroom context. Participants gained a better understanding of how institutional power that reproduces injustice, social exclusion, and oppression, despite our best efforts, is embedded in our social justice work. The event was well attended by a diverse group of students, staff, and faculty, as well as teachers and administrators from local public school systems who will bring these learnings back to the classroom with them.
This series of events was organized by a team of dedicated individuals and sponsored by The Resource Center, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Center for African-American Studies, Center for Pedagogical Innovation, Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, and the Wesleyan Library. Demetrius Colvin, director of the Resource Center, had this to say about the day’s events: “Dr. Love was everything I could have imagined as a speaker and more. Every year the planning committee and I are dedicated to bringing innovative and illuminating speakers on campus that can challenge and inspire us to do our own personal and communal work when it comes to social and personal change. Dr. Love gave us exactly what I hoped she would bring and I encourage everyone to connect with her work through her website. It is well worth the visit!”