by Patrick Healey ’17
Perhaps one of the most recognizable and influential speeches of all time is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which stopped the world in its tracks and served as a catalyst for change and love that is still being carried out today.
On Wednesday evening, members of the Providence College community gathered in St. Dominic Chapel to attend a vigil of remembrance for Dr. King, and for a night of deep reflection and gratitude for his great achievements.
Additionally, though, there was a clear recognition that there is more work to be done and that students must follow in the footsteps of Dr. King in order to fully realize his dream.
The PC Liturgical Choir began the evening by performing “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” which undoubtedly foreshadowed the evenings reflections on Dr. King.
Pedro Aleman ’17 gave a short introduction to begin the activities of the event, saying, “Dr. King was committed to social justice and equality for all people.” Fr. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P., then gave a brief invocation, followed by a few words from Dean Quincy Bevely.
Dean Bevely spoke of the great and unwavering faith which Dr. King seemingly always possessed, even in the most difficult of times, and noted that he was a man of action, and was a great leader who served others. He said that Dr. King’s “impact was insurmountable.”
Dean Bevely addressed the way in which Dr. King gave all people hope that indeed one man’s dream could change the world. He talked of how far social justice had come since Dr. King’s famous speech, but touched on the fact that there is still much work to be done.
Tierra Marshall from the Office of Institutional Diversity gave the vigil’s first reflection, imploring students to continue the legacy of Dr. King. She drew attention to the way in which his faith was able to sustain Dr. King during the many threats and dangers that he faced in his life. She mentioned Dr. King’s strong love of God and love of his neighbor, and the incredible way in which he was able to show respect and love for both collaborators and enemies alike, and how he yearned to hear the voice of the Lord.
Gabriel Alvarez ’20 offered the second reflection of the evening, conveying the impact that Dr. King had on the Latino community. Alvarez stated, “King Jr. did more for Latinos than I can ever properly explain,” and spoke of the various ways which Dr. King reached out to the Latino community and aided in their fight for social justice.
The final reflection of the night was delivered by Adriel Antoine ’18, who explained how he reveres Dr. King and how he has influenced him from a young age. He said that Dr. King taught him to refuse to be idle in the midst of injustice, and called the attention of the students to the various injustices and examples of racism in the country and on PC’s campus, encouraging students to be active in the fight for justice, begging the question, “What is stopping you?”
After Antoine’s reflection came the candle lighting part of the vigil, where each student passed the flame of their small candle to each other until the whole Chapel was glowing in remembrance of the great Dr. King. As the small fires were flickering in front of everyone’s faces, PC alumnus Paul Carroll ’99 read aloud the entirety of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in what was quite possibly the most powerful few minutes of the vigil.
Just as Aleman introduced the night, he also concluded it, noting that Dr. King’s leadership and fight for justice paved the way for so many movements that are going on today, such as the LGBTQ movement, the women’s movement, and Black Lives Matter.