About the Theme ‘Food Justice’

About This Year’s Theme: ‘Food Justice’

Tyler Harper and Justin Moriarty, co-chairs of this years’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day Planning Committee, offer insights into this year’s theme, Food Justice.

‘Our Common Humanity’

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Tyler Harper photographed on the historic Quad, on the steps of Hedge Hall and moving books into his Hedge Hall office on Aug. 14, 2020.
MLK Day Planning Committee co-chair Tyler Harper. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of justice was rooted in an appeal to our common humanity. Nothing is more basically human than food: growing it, preparing it, sharing it,” said Harper, an assistant professor of environmental studies.

“Our foodways are at once a window into the richness of cultural difference and a bridge that reaches across divides of region, identity, history, and language,” he added.

“But in a world racked by environmental calamity, economic inequality, war, and rapid technological change, eating is also inseparable from questions of justice. The MLK Planning Committee chose this year’s theme not only because it is topical but because food is inherently interpersonal, interdisciplinary, and intercultural. It is a subject that every member of our campus is an expert in, no matter their job, field of knowledge, or place of birth.”

‘Our Unique Selves’

Justin Moriarty, technical Director for Theater and Dance, directs students Natalia Jacobs '26 of Amherst, Mass., (in downstairs shop) and Gideon Berrie '26  of New York City (on the Schaeffer Theatre stage)  in building and painting sets in the shop and on the stage of Schaeffer Theater with the assistance of Aidan McDowell on February 14, 2023.
MLK Day Planning Committee co-chair Justin Moriarty. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“This year’s theme has the power to connect us all in deeply personal ways,” said Moriarty, who is a lecturer in theater and technical director of the Department of Theater and Dance.

“Most of my fondest stories of home and family revolve around food. From growing to preparing to sharing with others, food has a way, like art, to allow each of us to fully experience our unique selves. Our hope as a committee was to choose a theme that provided space for our entire community to find ways to fully and holistically participate in the day’s events. My hope is that you will join us in our efforts to build a stronger Bates!”