Dalhousie community reflects on MLK’s legacy
Panelists want black youth to understand their history
January 21, 2014, 1:02 PM AST
Last updated January 21, 2014, 1:02 PM AST
A panel discussion on Martin Luther King’s message of love and peace Monday sparked discussion of African-Nova Scotia youth remembering their past, while looking toward the future.
Dalhousie University’s Black Student Advising Centre hosted the event to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. About 80 students and community members shared their opinions on the relevance of King’s mandate in today’s society.
Panelists stressed the importance for black youth to learn about their personal history.
“Our generation is of the mindset that you need to step beyond things that happened in the past,” said Elizabeth Dantzler, a social worker who works for the Association of Black Social Workers. But it’s “historical, systemic, engrained in your family,” she said.
Julie Sobowale, a Halifax journalist and lawyer, says youth need to know what previous generations experienced. She notes the freedom of today’s black people to “to walk down the street and not be harassed — that’s a given for us, but it was not a given for people who were living in the ’60s and ’70s in North America.”
Dealing with anger
Nzingha Millar, a second-year student from the University of King’s College, raised a question about the burdens of the past.
“How do we keep the horrors and the bitterness and the issues that we’ve dealt with throughout history from subsuming us and jading us to the point where we can’t foresee any kind of progress in the future?” Millar asked.
Tenoai Hanoahu, a student from Saint Mary’s University, says if someone harms you, you’re going to be angry. He believes it’s how you channel the anger and learn from the past that is important.
“I want my grandkids to be angry for what happened to me today,” said Hanoahu, “but I want them to not just lash out in chaos.”
“We want to feel his drive vibrating through our blood stream”
The evening also featured poetry from El Jones, Halifax’s poet laureate. Jones’ spoken word performance centered on taking back King from manipulation and misinformation surrounding his legacy.
“We want information about every speech, march and campaign,” said Jones. “We don’t want the edited version or what’s been adjudicated as safe.”
Jones’ full performance is included below