Remembering both sides of MLK
When the crowd inside the Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center was asked what words came to mind when they thought of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., answers included “helping people,” “change,” “passion” and “larger than life.”
“We think of his marches, his speeches, his trailblazing action, boycotts and protests,” said Brian Foster, sociology professor at the University of Mississippi and keynote speaker at Monday’s MLK Day of Service Community Service Award event. “But there was another side to this man. There’s another dimension to this notion of black resistance. And that dimension is not necessarily one of spirited oratory, loudness, flamboyance. It is one of quiet.”
Foster spoke of King’s duality, his speeches that shook a nation, and his quiet, introspective glances that showed a man of great thought and faith.
Foster touched on another of MLK’s well-known speeches where he names the three dimensions of a complete life: length – the inward concern that motivates people; breadth – the outward concern for the welfare of others; and height – the upward reach for God.
Foster said most people understand breadth, reaching out and helping others, or height, reaching toward a higher power.
“But length, this notion of looking inward, comes about more slowly,” he said. “As we look to a future of uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we look into ourselves. Quiet does not mean silent. Now is not a time for silence … I think we can find the time to take note of our inner vitality and inner strengths. Our accomplishments don’t always have to be larger than life.”
Before Foster spoke, Oxford mayor Pat Patterson, Lafayette County supervisor Mike Roberts and Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter welcomed the standing-room-only crowd inside the Burns-Belfry and thanked each other for being leaders willing to work together to better the entire LOU Community.
The morning ceremony was one of several planned throughout the day Monday to honor King. Volunteer Oxford partnered with the university’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Good Food for Oxford Schools and Americorps Vistas to host the day’s events.
The morning ceremony was also one of recognition of five community members who spend a good part of their lives doing for others and trying to make a difference. Those receiving the Community Volunteer Awards were:
• Daniel Doyle: Community Nominee. Doyle is the executive director of the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network. He has been involved in the Mississippi Teacher Corps, Sustainable Oxford, Organic Mothers, Good Food for Oxford Schools, Mississippi Farm to School Network, the Boys and Girls Club and more.
• Jacelyn Frierson: Lafayette County and Oxford City School Student Award Nominee. Frierson is a senior at Oxford High School, a band member, girl scout, an active member of the 2nd Baptist Church’s youth group and president of the African American history club at Oxford High School. Over the past 13 years, she has walked dogs, collected food for the pantry, visited veterans, made cards for the elderly, read to children, collected books for summer reading, sewed dolls for hospital patients, wrapped gifts at The Christmas Store and more.
• Laura Shields: Community Nominee. Shields is an Oxford native who graduated from Harding University with a degree in psychology. She splits her time between volunteering for Volunteer Oxford, the American Red Cross, Baptist Memorial Hospital and The Oxford Food Pantry. She also coordinates all of Oxford Church of Christ’s digital and social media content. Throughout her time as a volunteer, she has helped multiple organizations with social media sites, data collection, compiling research and website assistance.
• Lyndsey Acree: University of Mississippi Student Award Nominee. Acree, a senior Dietetics and Nutrition major, is an Olive Branch native. She splits her time between her studies and commitment to being a pole-vaulting student-athlete for the Ole Miss Track and Field team. In addition to her academic and athletic responsibilities, she serves as the Track and Field Executive Board Member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where she advocates for the student-athlete body and helps lead various community engagement projects for the athletic, Lafayette, Oxford, and University populations. Throughout her career, she has helped lead major yearly Ole Miss Athletics community engagement projects.
• Joan Vick: Community Nominee. Vick is a retiree and a native of Oxford. She is a volunteer at RSVP and has given her time to Area 4 Special Olympics, Baptist Memorial Hospital, the American Red Cross, Double Decker Arts Festival, Gertrude Castellow Ford Center, Love Packs, Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oxford, Yocona International Folk Festival, Good Foods for Oxford Schools, MLK Day projects and many other organizations in the community.