Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 22, 2020

mlk day 2020 opengraph

Bellarmine University honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with more than just a day away from classes. As part of Bellarmine's 25th annual MLK Day of Service hosted by Bellarmine's Office of Identity and Inclusion, Residence Life and Student Activities Center, students traveled to different sites around Louisville, including Pillar, Louisville Central Community Center and Dreams with Wings to serve the community.

Kelzé Riley, a Bellarmine junior who served at the Louisville Central Community Center, said "Bellarmine puts community service in all aspects of all things that students do here, and I think that is so important to everyone's foundational development."

The next day, students, faculty and staff marched from the campus quad to Our Lady of the Woods Chapel for a reflection and storytelling event hosted by Residence Life, the Office of Identity and Inclusion, Student Activities and Campus Ministry. The event was marked by speeches and stories, including a reflection on Dr. King’s "I Have A Dream" speech by Khiara Craig, a Bellarmine junior and vice president of Bellarmine's Black Student Union.

Khiara urged the audience to avoid being political for the sake of being professional. "Bellarmine being the first integrated basketball team in Kentucky was political," she said. "Former president Horrigan and Bellarmine faculty writing a letter in 1964 to the President of the United States, urging him to pass the Civil Rights Act, was political. Bellarmine has been political, and it changed lives."

"Today’s march inspired me to help the progress of Bellarmine’s commitment to diversity and inclusion," Student Government Association president Trey Grievous said. "When Khiarah Craig gave her speech today, it gave me a spark to be a part of the change that needs to happen at Bellarmine."

"Along with Bellarmine's first dean, Franciscan Fr. John Loftus, [Bellarmine's founding president Monsignor Alfred] Horrigan would impact civil rights awareness in this region far beyond that of usual college officials," said Fr. Clyde Crews.

Below are a few highlights of Bellarmine's history and involvement in the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. These were among the historical moments mentioned during Tuesday’s storytelling and reflection event in the chapel, and were retrieved from “High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College” by Wade Hall.  

  • In the 1960s Bellarmine was an active leader in the civil rights movement, letters of support went out from Bellarmine Faculty Association and Student Government for integration and open housing.
  • In 1962, Father Horrigan stated in a local speech that, “we can no longer tolerate the exclusion of any American, regardless of the color of his skin, from full and unhampered participation in the economic, political and educational life of this country.
  • In 1964, students and faculty were given permission to miss class to attend the March on Frankfort to advocate for the bill requiring businesses to serve customers regardless of race or creed.

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