Campus Celebrates Legacy of MLK with Kenn Elmore

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To celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, more than 100 members of the medical campus community gathered in the Hiebert Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 20, to hear BU’s Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, JD.

The event opened with audio of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Elmore began by sharing that his speech was going to be very personal. “I never would have dreamed to be in a position where I get to honor Dr. King. That is something in which my parents take incredible pride.” noted. He explained that his mother was brought to tears when she found out he would be speaking about MLK because “a lot of people fought very hard” to give him such an incredible opportunity.

His remarks, “On the Way We Go: Chaos or Community?” were based on a book by King with a similar title, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? “I’m one of those people who thinks a little chaos and a little community can do well by us now,” he confessed. Elmore noted that King felt “Power without love is reckless and abusive; and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” He explained that this sentiment might characterize our national climate over the past few years – including issues such as war, underprivileged schools, lack of the middle class, etc. After the tragic 2016 shootings in Dallas, Elmore reached the crossroad of chaos and community. He reengaged with people in different ways and reevaluated what his “bubbles” were.

He reflected on his past and shared the refrain of a church song from his youth that especially spoke to him, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around…I’m gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marching up to freedom land.” The song was part of his youth and was sung to by his congregation to members when they were about to take a significant step in their lives. It was sung to Elmore when he left for college and it stuck with him. The song reminded him of the freedom riders of the civil rights movement, and he realized he could not live ahistorically. When he “saw with history in mind,” he saw all the people that tried to help move the country forward.

Elmore’s speech was followed by a musical interlude with Margaret Lee, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology, and Moisès Fernández Via, Founding Director of Arts | Lab @ Med Campus, and an energetic town hall discussion. Along with Elmore, Associate Dean of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Rafael Ortega, MD, and Jonathan Woodson, Faculty Director at the BU Institute for Health System Innovation, facilitated a discussion that allowed the community to voice their concerns and questions. The event provided support and reflection on the eve of Inauguration Day.

To view more photos from the event, visit our Facebook album.

The event was sponsored by BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with the BMC Human Resources Department, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine Office of Diversity, BU School of Public Health and the BMC Minority Recruitment Program. To view the event, click here. For optimal viewing, please view in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browsers.