Pacific Union College celebrated the legacy of the civil rights movement with an address by Cleophus J. LaRue on January 10 at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance installment of the Colloquy Speaker Series. LaRue is the Francis Landey Patton Professor of Homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary and is a distinguished scholar of African-American preaching and worship.
LaRue began by noting that for many in the audience. “the whole civil rights movement is a distant memory” resulting in “less passion, intensity, emotion, [and] commitment.”
“Some of us were younger,” he added. “We remember seeing Dr. King on TV—we remember that time in our country’s history—but for many of you, it is just a distant memory and that’s understandable.”
LaRue proposed a new way of experiencing Martin Luther King Jr. Day: “This time, when we celebrate Martin Luther King’s life... should not just be the time when we look back and talk about what was, what happened.” Instead, he said that “it should also be a time when we look forward to the kind of people that we can be when we look at Dr. King’s life and [see] what in Dr. King’s life might [be] worthy of emulation.”
He told students that God sees things from a different perspective than we do and said that our task in life is to “see things God’s way and to live our lives accordingly.” While also cautioning that “we must take care not to engage in prejudice and defamation even when it seems to have support in scripture.”
LaRue concluded by saying King “changed the world because he gave himself to something larger than himself” and added that he had come to “tell you at Pacific Union College, don’t miss your window of opportunity” to do the same.
The presentation followed an introduction by PUC President Heather Knight in which she highlighted King’s dream of equality and how it has developed over the years, as shown in the election of the nation’s first African-American president.
The colloquy was “a chance to think about wonderful values like justice, compassion, faith, equality,” Knight said. “We’re very very thrilled today to begin our Winter Colloquy Speaker Series with the Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance,” she added, noting that PUC’s celebration of King’s legacy precedes the Jan. 21 national holiday commemorating his birth.
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