Community invited to ‘Called to Love’ MLK event

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*UPDATE:

Due to the weather, Augustana’s “Called to Love” MLK event today is being held via Zoom. The event begins at 10:30 a.m.

A watch party will still be held in Gävle rooms of the Gerber Center for Student Life, 3435 9 1/2 Ave., Rock Island. The step performance by the Heavy Steppas will now be viewed as a recording.

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Dr. Reggie Williams, professor of Christian ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, will be the keynote speaker at Augustana College’s annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 15. The public is invited to the 10:30 a.m event in the Gävle rooms of the Gerber Center for Student Life, 3435 9 1/2 Ave., Rock Island.

The event, themed “Called to Love,” is co-sponsored by the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, and the Augustana Diversity Council. The presentation will be livestreamed on YouTube.

The event will also feature Augustana student performances, including the Heavy Steppas, a step group founded in 2019. Heavy Steppas seeks to break down racial barriers among college students and create an inclusive community within music. The group, led by junior Aniyah Davis, aims to educate the community on the culture and history of the art form of step.

Sophomore Charlotte Boyer, who performs as Charlotte Blu, will conclude the event by singing “Lift Every Voice.”

Dr. Lisa Durant-Jones, interim vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Augustana, said the event will be a time for the campus and community to unite over shared values. 

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“Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is as important now as it was during the Civil Rights Movement,” she said. “There is so much hate in our world today; it would do us well to remember the power of love, compassion and respect for the dignity of all life.”

“Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is as important now as it was during the Civil Rights Movement.” – Dr. Lisa Durant-Jones, interim vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Augustana

About Dr. Reggie Williams

Dr. Williams is the author of “Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance,” which was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title in theology in 2014. The book examines the impact of exposure to theology in the Harlem Renaissance on the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis in 1945 for his resistance to Hitler’s government.

Dr. Williams received his Ph.D. in Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. His research interests include Christological ethics, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, the Harlem Renaissance, race, politics and Black church life.

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He is a board member of the English Language section of the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society and the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and a former board member of the Society for Christian Ethics. 

Augustana’s commitment to diversity

Annually, Augustana marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an event, bringing together the campus and Quad-Cities community. Dr. Durant-Jones said this event is one of many hosted by the college celebrating diversity and the rich cultural experiences of our community. 

This fall, Augustana earned its fourth Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Augustana was one of only two private colleges in Illinois and among only nine national liberal arts colleges to receive the distinction in October 2023.

Dr. Durant-Jones said this distinction is considered the gold standard for diversity best practices in higher education. Augustana continuing to be a recognized leader in this vein is emblematic of the college continuing to do the important work of ensuring students of all backgrounds are not only welcome, but engaged, she said. 

“From welcoming our largest and most diverse class this fall to ensuring students of every background are thriving is a hallmark of Augustana’s success,” she said. 

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