Martin Luther King Jr. celebration marked with campus Peace Journey
About 50 students, faculty, staff and local community members gathered Jan. 16 for the Beloved Community Peace Journey and Candlelight Vigil, an annual event that includes a march around campus.
The Peace Journey is a community march designed to celebrate the growth and development of the nation, state and local community. It commemorates the many lives lost and sacrifices made in the work to eradicate hate. Organizers say the demonstration is a symbolic burial of hate and oppression.
Elon’s Black Cultural Society and Gospel Choir led the demonstration of reconciliation. Singing hymns and sharing fellowship, the group began walking from Moseley Center and circled the campus, traveling on Haggard, Williamson and Lebanon avenues.
Following the march, they gathered at the amphitheatre in the Academic Village, lighting candles and listening to tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. The vigil was hosted by the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and included remarks by chaplaincy resident Chet Denlinger, Town of Elon Alderman Lawrence Slade, and Elon senior Eugene Daniel.
Daniel said if King were alive today, he would be focusing on the concept of character, which forces people to look beyond color barriers and look "into the depths of our identity."
Daniel said the character of individuals provides hope.
"We focus so much on our disadvantages and seeming impossibility of the journey, we lose hope and oppress ourselves. No whips or chains needed, because we think it and our defeat is inevitable," Daniel said. "But Dr. King preached a message that if you focus on your character more than you focus on the plot of the story, then there's hope that the story has no choice but to change.
"Today I celebrate Dr. King and his accomplishments. But I will not forget there's still work to be done. There's still freedom to be had. But freedom without character is void. Thank you Dr. King for seeing me greater than anybody else saw me, so that I could one day see myself greater than anybody else ever will," Daniel said.