By Mike Kilen
Photos by Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
We shouldn't be silent but should use our voices.
That was Donald Glenn's reason for playing the words of Martin Luther King Jr. from a speaker on the Promenade on Friday in honor of the day dedicated nationally to the civil rights leader, coming up Monday.
The words that played were King's impassioned response to church leaders who denounced his protests of treatment of blacks in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. He wrote 7,000 words from jail in the margins of a newspaper.
The letter defends the practice of nonviolent resistance to racism. In it, he wrote that people have a moral responsibility to be nonviolent gadflies and create a social tension that will wake people up to prejudice and racism -- not sit idly by because injustice may be happening to others.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he wrote.
Glenn, GCU's Multicultural Manager, told a group of assembled students before playing King's word over a loudspeaker that the letter eventually was published across the country and led President John Kennedy's drive to introduce civil rights legislation.
"Dr. King's work is so significant that it is why we can sit all together today," Glenn said. "It was Birmingham that got him attention. And why we are playing his words on the Promenade."
Freshman student Marina Tong listened as the words played, remembering how her African refugee parents brought her to America and she learned of Dr. King.
"For me, it means looking at my identity and having the ability to tell others about it," she said.
The silence, on this Friday midday at least, was broken.
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.