The third Monday of January marked a historic Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the University of Notre Dame. Due to the valiant efforts of members of student government, students and faculty were given the day off to engage in service and meaningful reflection to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. This was the University’s seventh year celebrating Walk the Walk week, which is a week dedicated to University-sponsored events that explore ways we can help make Notre Dame more inclusive for all. This year I was able to attend two amazing events during Walk the Walk week that allowed me to reflect on my place at Notre Dame and what I can do to help build the community that I want to see at ND.
The first event I attended was a panel on building a “beloved community” at Notre Dame. This was a beautiful and informative panel that was a collaboration between the Office of the President and student government. The panel included leaders and representatives from different campus groups, such as the Native American Student Association at ND (NASAND), the Black Student Association (BSA), PrismND (LGBTQ+ student group), Voices of Faith, and the Notre Dame Puerto Rican Student Association. The panelists spoke about what the ND community meant to them and what to do moving forward in order to support all students. The president of PrismND spoke of how loving something means you want to see it be better. The University of Notre Dame has undergone so many great changes in the past few years and has made some amazing progress, but there is always work to be done. Our job as a campus community is to love one another, while actively striving for change.
Upon the completion of the amazing panel, we made our way to the Main Building to participate in a beautiful candlelight prayer service. Law School Dean Marcus Cole gave a beautiful speech on his memory of the day MLK died and the changes he has been able to see. Being able to attend this prayer service provided me with a sense of hope. Not just for the University, but for the country as a whole. It was beautiful to enjoy the gospel performance of Voices of Faith and to reflect with my peers on what MLK’s legacy means to us and what we can do to live with his vision in mind.
The University of Notre Dame has made great progress in my four years here. With administrators, faculty, and students who are so ready to be the change we want to see, I am hopeful for our future. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ND has so much love within it that the future looks so promising in strengthening our beloved community.