Seeds of change: Beloved Community Dinner celebrates advocacy on campus

Sasha Weilbaker, Senior Writer

This month’s Beloved Community Dinner, titled “A Movement Like Kaepernick: How One Individual Can Spark Possibilities for Peace,” co-hosted by the Black Student Union and student-athletes, created provocative and thoughtful conversation about the steps one can take to promote peace in the community. The dinner kicked off Martin Luther King Jr. Week on Jan. 16 by focusing on the meaning of activism, highlighting the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Martin Luther King Jr. himself.

Kaepernick, known for being an outspoken civil rights advocate through acts such as his “Million Dollar Pledge,” gained media attention by kneeling during the national anthem at football games. When asked about his controversial decision, Kaepernick said that he would not “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

In reaction to Kaepernick’s unique form of activism, student leaders at each table asked members of the community thought-provoking questions about Kaepernick’s actions and how they relate to activism as a whole. Community members were then asked to indicate how they would describe themselves as activists by placing a sticky note on a poster labelled with different forms of activism, such as social media, protests, thoughts and prayers, or donations.

“This dinner in particular was valuable, I felt, because of the collaboration between the BSU and the University’s sports department. It was very nice to see collaboration happen between areas on campus that are usually kept very separate,” Zoe Russell ’17 said.

Russell was also impressed by how the two groups were able to find commonality in their fight for peace.

“The combination of things relevant to both groups, such as using your platform as a sports icon to promote change, created a great space for conversation for everyone who attended,” Russell said.

In addition to Kaepernick’s activism, the work of King was honored and discussed. Excerpts from his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech and lesser-known “Why America May Go to Hell” speech were read and discussed through the lens of personal non-violent activism.

“Aside from getting to reconnect with friends, I got the opportunity to engage a school administrator on the topic of minority communities at the University. I came to experience an environment facilitated for that sort of discussion, and I think it was carried out effectively,” Jacquelyn Scott ’18 said.

The dinner ended with the song “Glory” by Common and John Legend from the 2014 film “Selma,” which was about the 1965 march in Selma, Ala. led by King to secure equal voting rights.

Jorden Sneed ’17 also enjoyed the discourse at her table and emphasized how she gained insight into King that she had not thought of prior to the event.

“In order to reinforce Bucknell’s spirit of community, it is imperative that there be a space for this type of fellowship as well as a space for engagement with those of differing opinions and ideologies,” Sneed said.

Community Dinners are held each month by different campus organizations, each with a different theme. Invitations are sent out by email and posted in the Message Center and are open to all community members that RSVP. Scott advocated for the continuation of these dinners.

“The creation of common spaces for these discussions is necessary because those spaces enable community-driven change. If there is no platform, there will be no discussion, and there will be no change,” Scott said.

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