January 14, 2023
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
The College will be closed Monday in observance of the national holiday commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At the heart of the great social movement that Dr. King led is the concept of “a beloved community,” a society free from racial oppression and systemic injustice. King acknowledged that achieving that vision of radical love would require, as he put it, “a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives." In the more than half century since his death, we have seen many incremental changes in our society and yet, as the turmoil of our current democratic moment demonstrates, there is still much more work to be done.
Monday’s holiday is an opportunity not just to reflect on that critical work but also to do more of it. And in that spirit, the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta has chosen a theme for this year, asking us to begin cultivating a beloved community mindset to address and transform unjust systems.
This is precisely what we are striving to do here at Conn through our commitment to full participation. And so, as part of our work together this year, we will welcome for the 2023 MLK Lecture Dr. Justin Rose, a King scholar, professor of political science and dean for Faculty Recruitment, Development, and Diversity at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to joining Rhodes, Rose served on the political science faculty and co-directed the Africana Studies program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Most recently, he was a fellow in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the Harvard Kennedy School. His lecture will take place via Zoom at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30. We hope you will join us.
To extend the conversation, Rodmon King, dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, and Reginald White, vice president for Human Resources, will launch an initiative this semester focused on cultivating a beloved community mindset on our campus. This series of convenings and workshops, which is expected to continue through next fall, will begin at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in the 1941 Room in Crozier-Williams.
Later that evening on Feb. 10 at the Athey Center for Performance and Research, celebrated choreographer and dancer Ronald K. Brown and his company Evidence will perform a new work, “The Equality of Night and Day” (TEND), which examines concepts of equity and fairness in a world of increasing exploitation, gentrification, racism and xenophobia.
Together, these events will mark the start of our third annual Elevate conference, designed to bring together committed students, staff, faculty, alumni and residents of the New London region for listening and dialogue on racial justice. In 2021 and 2022, the Elevate conference was virtual. This year, it will be in person and on campus, starting with the workshop on Feb. 10 and continuing the next day with a series of talks and discussions on Feb. 11. More information about times and locations will be forthcoming.
Our mission at Connecticut College is to create productive citizens prepared to put their education into action in support of a global democracy. That means working to elevate our discourse, our practices and our forms of self-governance to create the kind of environment where all people, no matter their identity or background, have the opportunity to thrive, to reach their potential and to contribute meaningfully to the flourishing of their communities and of the world. That ideal, called full participation, lies at the heart of who we are and what we do. On Monday, as you reflect on the legacy of Dr. King, please consider how you can do your part in creating our beloved community.