More than 120 members of the Lehigh community gathered on Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and to reflect on how his words can inspire present-day individual action. The luncheon, held at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Vine Street, focused on the theme of “Peace and Nonviolence in a Divisive World.” Organized by the university’s MLK Committee, the event was open to students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community.
Associate Professor of Psychology Christopher Burke, who also co-chairs the MLK Committee, guided group discussions that focused on King’s words. Attendees were encouraged to consider how they can act of agents of change and strive toward effective dialogue over confrontation. “It’s clear from Dr. King’s words,” he said, “that nonviolent resistance isn’t about just lovey-dovey words. It’s serious, hard work. As he said, ‘Nonviolence is an absolute commitment to the way of love…it’s not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.’ He saw nonviolence as the only way to move to a more peaceful future.”