Adieu Dear Wittenberg

To the readers of The Torch and community members, it’s time for me to say the dreaded word, “goodbye.” As I used to tell all the prospective students I encountered within the Admissions office, “home is where the heart is.” No matter where I go, my heart will always be with Wittenberg because it’s home. So I won’t bother saying “goodbye,” instead I’ll say, “until next time, Witt!”

In this final article that I write, I couldn’t find a better way to make the proceeding words anymore interesting than to take some time out to tell you about a person. Over the past three years, I have been bestowed the opportunity to tell the story of the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation speaker, and this year is no different.

This phenomenal person is a woman by the name, Joyce Ladner. She was — and still remains to be — a vigorous woman of great courage who is always willing to stand and fight at the forefront of what so many people believe in and lost their lives for, and what became known as the Civil Rights Movement.

When asked who Joyce is, she responded with: “Oh, I don’t know.” At that point, it was clear to me that in order to interpret who she is, I had to understand her life.

To understand Ladner’s life, one must first realize she is more than an American civil rights activist. She’s also an author, civil servant and sociologist.

She shared concerns about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. “I’ve been trying to be patient with these young people,” Ladner said. “Organizing is unglamorous work. King mobilized, and these #BlackLivesMatter young people can mobilize people to protest a specific event; that’s important because they do bring it to people’s attention. But, what are you going to do afterwards? How are you going to get the bad ones out?”

Over Ladner’s life, she has published several books. Her first book, “Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman,” was a study of poor black adolescent girls from St. Louis, and was published in 1971. This was followed by “Mixed Families: Adopting Across Racial Boundaries” and “The Ties that Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families.”

While she was bestowed the opportunity to exchange a few different moments  with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she explained how one moment was different than the rest. In August 1963, when

King was giving his infamous speech “I Have A Dream,” Ladner explained that the speech might still have had the same response even if award-winning Gospel singer, Mahila Jackson hadn’t shouted out, “Tell ‘em about your dream Martin.”

“You’ve seen how the preacher, when he gets to the call and response at church, right? That’s what Mahila was doing, responding to Martin’s call,” Ladner explained.
For the last time, Farewell and Best Wishes!

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