The earthquake in Haiti provided a stark context for the University’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 18.
“If Dr. King were with us today,” said President Tilghman, “he would be urging each of us to find a way to assist the people of Haiti not just to restore the country to its prior state, but to build a more just and prosperous society in its wake.” The “heartrending stories” emerging from Haiti, Tilghman told the gathering in Richardson Auditorium, are reminders “of Dr. King’s message that each of us has a responsibility to be an agent of change — to address the systemic wrongs that afflict not just our own communities but communities around the world.”
Professor Tricia Rose, chairwoman of the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University, offered a similar theme in her keynote address. The tragedy of Haiti was “a collision of forces … both manmade and naturally occurring,” she said, but King would have been “incredibly moved” by the response of the international community. Rose praised the work of students from area schools who submitted original videos, writings, and artwork for a competition designed to help commemorate King’s legacy, saying that they “captured the sense of urgency of these issues.”
The University’s MLK Day Journey Award for Lifetime Service was presented to Janet Dickerson, who is stepping down in June after 10 years as Princeton’s vice president for campus life. Tilghman said Dickerson “has devoted herself to building or renewing the bridges of understanding, tolerance, and common purpose that underpin our University today.” By W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71