Time doesn't allow for me to develop my thinking as much as I'd like to here, but I wish to highlight the memorable experience of meeting Dr. Fania Davis who offered the Convocation Address an insight to her work on restorative justice, taking action, and empowering youth. At one point in her conversation she outlined the principals of Ubuntu, "I am, because we are," as central to the mission of her work. I kept wondering, "Will others think the two of us know one another?" We didn't/don't, but I introduced myself after the talk and shared the work of Ubuntu Academy at Fairfield University and our community partnerships with immigrant and refugee youth in the area.
It was also a pleasure to see the 2017 MLK Vision Awards going to my colleague, Dr. Paul Lakeland, an inspiration, Dr. Ophelia Rowe-Allen, and my student, Anmol Tabassum. These individuals were recognized for bringing the spirit and hope to Fairfield University in ways similar to Dr. Martin Luther King.
Early in the night, too, I had an honor with Sonya Huber to name this year's MLK Essay contest winners, four young people who were selected from over 100 entries. Perhaps their insight was the greatest hope arriving from yesterday's festivities, as they shared stories of the discouragement they've overcome, the impact Dr. Martin Luther King had on their lives, and the wisdom family members and friends offered them. Reading selections from the essays served to refuel the fight for what is good and right. Their generation deserves the applause.
Most of today will be spent preparing for tonight's radio show and tomorrow's Youth Leadership Academy, and I know I will find the energy after being inspired so greatly yesterday. I cannot emphasize it enough: I love / to believe / in hope. Hope is all we have, even in what appears to be hopeless times.