Commentary: In the midst of tumult, student activism has been heartening
As attendees made their way to last night’s opening reception for “And the Struggle Continues,” an exhibit showcasing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference papers housed at Emory University, they passed more than four dozen student and faculty protestors. Lining the circular foyer on the third-floor landing of the Woodruff Library, the demonstrators silently presented a thicket of placards—“We are Emory,” “We are sorry,” “I deserve 5/5 respect,” “Ethics is not a brand,” "This is 5/5 outrageous." The SCLC artifacts provided an easy analogy: photos of Rev. Joseph Lowery with a bullhorn, Andrew Young walking a picket line, signs from 1968’s Resurrection City.
At eighty-six, the former SCLC president remains as fearless as ever.
The Reverend Joseph Lowery is uncharacteristically quiet as he sits at a long table inside the modest room in Downtown’s Atlanta Life Insurance Company building. Between bites of fried chicken and peach cobbler, he occasionally interjects or asks a question, but mostly he listens attentively, staring out at a group that’s as diverse as the issues for which its members are so passionate.
They both eyed the same prize. At 50, they realized it was for painfully different reasons.
John Lewis and Julian Bond. Two men whose lives were shaped in the crucible of the civil rights movement, whose beings were transformed by the soaring energy and ringing eloquence of the man who came to symbolize that movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and whose major roles have been played out in the cold vacuum of his absence.
“Everybody keeps looking for Dr. King, as though he was right around the corner. People can’t hang around waiting for a dream. Once a dream is dreamt, you have to take the next step and realize it.” —SCLC staff member, 1972
On a Memphis motel balcony four years ago this month, a 30.06 slug tore the life from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His colleague and intimate friend, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, was standing inches behind him when the bullet struck.