OC Lifts Voices, Reflects on Dr. King
By Dianne Anderson
Young folks and millennials these days may think they invented the call-out culture, but Misty Levingston knows what really happened.
Everyone has their own favorite MLK speech, and hers is the 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” where Dr. King calls out society that ignited an entire national justice movement at a time when social media was mostly books and copy paper flyers.
“That whole speech is calling out white Christian pastors, but it was a call out. Students today and in society say theirs is a call-out culture, but Dr. King had been calling folks out for a long time in the early 60s,” she said.
Levingston, Director of Black Excellence and Achievement at Chapman University, believes his message is ever more relevant as time goes on. The letter and the dream were about bringing everyone together, and after so many decades, it still skims the surface of how far society has come.
“You think the dream is actualized, well, is it? But, there are people out here doing things in alignment with Dr. King’s dream, which is why we need to celebrate his ideals,” she said.
Some of that celebration continues this week as part of her MLK Day program, where each of their winning participants will choose a Dr. King quote and how it represents the presenter, or what their organization embodies.
There is also that special historic connection to the campus. It’s where Dr. King gave his speech “Racial Justice and Nonviolent Resistance” Artist Lecture Series in 1961. King then spoke of the danger of easing up on social justice policy to eliminate segregation, and racial discrimination.
“Occasionally they will say adopt a policy of moderation. Where moderation means moving on towards the goal of justice with wise restraint and calm reasonableness, then moderation is a great virtue which all men of good will must seek to achieve during this tense period of transition. But if moderation means slowing up in the move for justice and capitulating to the undemocratic practices of the guardians of the deadening status quo, then moderation is a tragic vice which all men of good will must condemn,” Dr. King said in the speech.
Levingston said that her Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is all about the impact and influence that King started in those early days, and how those ideals live on. She hopes millennials don’t just view the day as a holiday, but take time to learn what King said, and what he stood for.
“Without him making those strides, we wouldn’t be here. It is our responsibility to continue moving forward. For me, it’s making it more inclusive for Black students on campus, and to serve. Dr. King was a serving leader.” she said.
She said that realizing King’s dream provides Chapman students with the racial equity and inclusion awareness they need to achieve their dreams.
“It’s not an HBCU, but you can still have the experience, and have the support and the programs are for them,” she said.
Millions of people will take the MLK Day opportunity to come together nationwide to volunteer, or engage in deeper reflections of greater good that marks the holiday.
On Saturday, January 14, the Voices of Second Baptist Church Adult Choir has been invited to share its acclaimed choral gospel message with the Faith in Action Ministry at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church at 33926 Calle La Primavera, Dana Point.
Dwayne Roberts, director of the music over Second Baptist Church Mass Choir, believes that it is important to remember Dr. King’s main message that he wanted America and the world to know, that everybody is equal.
Roberts said it’s obvious that issues of racial justice remain a national crisis that hasn’t diminished over time.
“One of the things we have to do in this country is first to admit that this country wasn’t built that way. It was built on slavery and inequality and because of that generations and generations have been affected,” he said.
His family moved to California when his father got out of the military, but his grandmother lived through the Jim Crow south. Roberts said that growing up in Orange County did not come without its unique challenges.
“As African American man in this country, whose parents were from the South, I think it’s important that everyone should be treated the same no matter the color of skin, race or creed, that everyone has the same opportunities and benefits as everyone else.”
But first, he believes society has to come face to face with the wrongs of the past to not perpetuate what King died trying to fight.
“We don’t want to stay stuck but you can’t forget where we came from,” he said. “That’s saying is that if you forget your past, you’re destined to repeat it.”
To read Letter from Birmingham Jail, see
To see MLK Speech at Chapman University, see http://bit.ly/3Zjij6d