Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015

Peniel Joseph, author and historian. (Tom Kates for Tufts University)

Peniel Joseph, author and historian. (Tom Kates for Tufts University)

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, Bates examined the great civil rights leader’s commitment to nonviolent action — and placed it in the context of recent events in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island, N.Y., and on the international stage.

Beginning Sunday, Jan. 18, the eve of the King Day holiday, the Bates observance addressed the theme From Selma to Ferguson: 50 Years of Nonviolent Dissent.

View video of the keynote address and the Benjamin Elijah Mays debate.

The programming explored historic and contemporary forms of nonviolent dissent in the U.S. and abroad. The events fell broadly into three categories: past and present activism, activism in the arts, and activism and the interconnected world.

For more information, please call 207-786-6400.

Monday, Jan. 12–Sunday, Feb. 22

Paintings Related to the Civil Rights Movement

Painting exhibit. Jonathan Frost, an artist from Camden, Maine, made a series of paintings following a tour of historic civil rights sites in the South. Frost’s paintings illustrate key episodes from the movement, including a voting rights march by black teachers and, depicted moment-by-moment in an 18-image series, the police killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
Ladd Library, First Floor  

Sunday–Monday, Jan. 18–19

Bates Students and Alumni in Action: A Story in Images

Documentary exhibit. Over the years, Bates students and alumni have participated in marches and protests on campus and across the country. For MLK Day 2015, the Office of Intercultural Education has compiled images and stories from Bates’ history of activism. Learn about the events and causes that moved Bates students then and now.​
Pettengill Hall, Perry Atrium

Sunday, Jan. 18

2–3:30pm | The House We Live In

Film screening. The film The House We Live In is the third and final installment in the 2003 public television series Race—The Power of an Illusion. Join us for a fascinating exploration of the biological and social meanings of race and how those constructions have affected American life, including public policies, voting rights and civil rights law, and affirmative action. Refreshments. (60 min.)
Pettengill G52

4pm | Sankofa

Open dress rehearsal. A Bates student organization that explores the history and experiences of the African diaspora through performance offers an open rehearsal of the piece it will perform the evening of King Day: Black Voice: The Life of Evelyn Ola Johnson. Free, but tickets required — please visit or call 207-786-8294 or 207-786-6400.
Schaeffer Theatre

7–8pm | The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Service

Reradicalizing Dr. King: A Transreligious, Transnational Vision of Beloved Community

Professor Najeeba Syeed-Miller offers the address at this service that celebrates the spiritual and religious roots of nonviolent dissent through music, prayer and word. Music by the Gospelaires; Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and Lisa Mayer; Neema Kafwimi ’17, Duncan Reehl ’17 and Divyamaan Sahoo ’17. Syeed-Miller is Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology, and Director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. Her work as a peacemaker has made her a go-to adviser for state, federal and White House initiatives and in international conflicts.
Peter J. Gomes Chapel

Monday, Jan. 19

9–10:30am | The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote

Peter J. Gomes Chapel

Overview | Matthew R. Auer, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty

Welcome | A. Clayton Spencer, President of Bates College

Introduction of Keynote Speaker | Alero Akporiaye, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics

Keynote Address | Peniel E. Joseph, historian and author

Reimagining Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Obama and the Age of Ferguson

Peniel Joseph is the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and Professor of History at Tufts University, and founded the interdisciplinary subfield that he characterizes as Black Power Studies. A frequent national commentator on issues of race, civil rights and democracy, he has written for The New York Times and historical journals, and has been featured on C-SPAN, NPR, MSNBC and other national media outlets.

He is the award-winning author of Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America; Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama; and this year’s Stokely: A Life, a biography of Black Power icon Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), which the New York Times Book Review described as “insightful, highly engaging and fluently written.”
The event will be live streamed at

10:45am–12:15pm | Session I Workshops

Alcatraz and the American Indian Movement
Film and discussion. In 1969, leaders of the American Indian Movement occupied Alcatraz Island, former site of a federal penitentiary. This session comprises a screening of the documentary Alcatraz Is Not an Island and a discussion led by Loring Danforth, Charles A. Dana Professor of Anthropology, about the history and current context involving Native American rights. (90 min.)
Pettengill G52

Activism and Interdisciplinary Study: 25 Years of Transformation
Lecture and discussion. Guest speaker: Fabio Rojas, Associate Professor of Sociology, Indiana University. In 1990, after years of student organizing at Bates, the faculty approved new interdisciplinary majors in African American Studies, American Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies. That activism reflected and emerged from larger student movements on behalf of Black Studies — galvanizing protest movements with important lessons for higher education today. Author of From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline, Professor Rojas leads a discussion of the histories of student protest that make our work possible. Sponsors: the programs in African American Studies, American Cultural Studies and Women and Gender Studies. (90 min.)
Hedge 208

Can We Talk? Tools for Talking With the ‘Enemy’
Workshop led by Bonnie Shulman, Professor Emerita of Mathematics. Discover tools of Nonviolent Communication, a technique pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg ( Through role-playing exercises in small groups, participants experience a framework for discussing charged issues such as the events in Ferguson. In any situation involving conflict, these tools are useful to defuse violence, communicate compassionately and find a resolution. (90 min.)
Hedge 106

Every Mother’s Son
Film. This 2004 documentary by Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson follows three brave mothers who each lost her son to police violence, and who each turned her grief into civic action. Learn more about Gary Busch, Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo and the pursuit of justice. (60 min.)
Pettengill G65

Social Justice: Text It!
Workshop facilitated by Monet Blakey ’17, Mitch Newlin ’17, Akira Townes ’17 and James Reese, Associate Dean of Students. This workshop is geared for people interested in engaging with the topic of social justice but unaccustomed to, or uncomfortable with, discussing “charged” topics publicly. We’ll use technology to invite a range of reactions and perspectives meant to demystify common themes and beliefs, and take the first steps toward discussing the results of the responses. Please bring your cell phone! (60 min.)
Commons 221–222

MLK Day Book Club
Discussion facilitated by Alero Akporiaye, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics. In his book Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, MLK Day 2015 keynote speaker Peniel Joseph argues that the 1965 Voting Rights Act unleashed a wave of radical democratic impulses that, through the Black Power Movement, ultimately led to the emergence of an influential new wave of black leadership. In Dark Days, Bright Nights, Joseph reassesses a half-century fraught with struggle to reveal its profound triumphs and an influence on American democracy continuing into the Obama era.
Office of Intercultural Education, Chase Hall

Social Media and Political Change
Discussion with Margaret Imber, Associate Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies; Matthew Auer, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty; and Megan Goodwin, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Religious Studies. We will look at ways in which the use of social media by activists has altered the dynamics of political and social change. Among the cases we’ll discuss are the Occupy Movement, #Ferguson and #Gamergate. (60 min.)
Pettengill G21

12:15–1pm | Lunch

Special price of $5.50.

1pm | Session II Workshops

Bates Voices: Honoring Martin
Reading with Matt Auer, Dean of the Faculty; Claudia Calhoun, Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric; Shirley Govindasamy, Human Resources; Eden Osucha, Assistant Professor of English; Stacy Smith, Lecturer in Education; Hannah Miller ’14, Academic Administrative Assistant; Jordan Becker ’15, Brenna Callahan ’15, Nicole Kanu ’15, Tenzin Namdol ’15, and Cody Tracey ’15; and President Clayton Spencer. Members of the Bates community honor Dr. King’s work by sharing short original writings addressing his legacy, and excerpted texts that have inspired the readers. (30 min.)
Commons Fireplace Lounge


Standing Through History: A Performative Timeline of Athletics as Activism/Protest/Dissent
Performance and discussion with Sam Bass ’18, Jacqueline Forney ’18 and Charlotte Jeffrey ’18; Margaret Creighton, Professor of History; and Su Langdon, Lecturer in Psychology. From the ancient Olympic Games, which served as a time of ceasefire for warring communities, to the potential boycott of the 2018 World Cup, sports have long served as a vehicle for activism. This piece describes some notable athletic points and peoples in history: A poster timeline and short presentations will highlight individuals such as Muhammad Ali, Bill Walton and Wilma Rudolph; and events such as the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics and the Battle of the Sexes tennis match. Sponsors: Athletics and History departments, the Athletics Committee. (60 min.)
Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building

Challenges and Improvements to Voting Rights: A 50-Year Legacy of the Voting Rights Act
Panel and discussion with Mark Owens, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics; Anne Schink, Board Member, League of Women Voters of Maine; and Josh Manson ’15. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 addressed the inequalities of voter participation across the country and set forth procedures for the federal government to enforce equal protection of each citizen’s right to vote. We will discuss how the Voting Rights Act has been amended, challenges that remain today and how current proposals to restrict same-day registration or require voter ID affect the population differently. Sponsor: Department of Politics. (60 min.)
Hedge 106

Sounds of ’65: Civil Rights and Jazz at the Midpoint of the 1960s
Lecture by Tom Hayward, Lecturer Emeritus in Classical and Medieval Studies. The year 1965 saw the march on Selma and the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, the assassination of Malcolm X and the Watts riots. This lecture explores how jazz musicians reacted to the events and culture of 1965 through recordings by such artists as Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Archie Shepp, Horace Silver and others. (60 min.)
Pettengill G63

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock
Film. Daisy Bates was a “a feminist before the term was invented.” This film tells the story of the “First Lady of Little Rock,” an African American woman who helped to change the face of the American education system when she supported the integration of Central High School in 1957, sparking a constitutional crisis. (60 min.)
Pettengill G65


Chicano! Taking Back the Schools
Film. In 1968, in response to deep inequities in the Los Angeles educational system, a group of college-age student leaders helped lead 10,000 students to “walk out,” protest, sit-in and advocate for educational reform. Catalyzed by their belief that LA’s students deserved better, these young leaders forever changed the city’s public education system. The third of four installments in producer Hector Galan’s 1996 documentary series. (90 min.)
Pettengill G21

Perspectives on Ferguson
Panel and small-group discussion with: Alex Bolden ’15, Jamilia Davis ’15 and Shana Wallace ’15; Megan Goodwin, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Religious Studies; Timothy Lyle, Visiting Assistant Professor of English; Matthew Pettway, Assistant Professor of Spanish; and Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education, Claremont School of Theology.
Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere have sparked months of civil unrest and protest nationwide, and reignited a national conversation about race, social justice and equity. Panelists will field questions about their personal reactions to these issues, as well as their perspectives on related topics — including ways in which the events in Ferguson have become a touchstone for larger issues in American culture; how the #blacklivesmatter protests relate to traditions of nonviolent dissent in America; and how media coverage and public responses display certain rhetorical patterns. Facilitated small-group discussions will help us unpack these perennial issues in American life. Sponsors: Amandla!, the Multifaith Chaplaincy and the departments of Spanish, English and Religious Studies. (90 min.)
Muskie Archives

5 Broken Cameras
Film and discussion with Cristina Malcolmson, Professor of English, and Bethany Edmunds, Maine BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction] Coalition. This film co-directed by a Palestinian and an Israeli documents nonviolent protests in Bil’in, a city in the occupied West Bank directly affected by the Israeli government’s construction of a 400-mile wall separating the Israeli and Palestinian populations. The residents of Bil’in, along with Israeli leftists and international Palestine solidarity activists, began a movement of creative nonviolent resistance against the construction upon realizing that it would isolate significant agricultural lands. The bridges of solidarity being built between anti-racist activists in Palestine and the U.S., particularly in the wake of recent events in Gaza and Ferguson, will be among the topics of discussion. (90 min.)
Pettengill G52

2:30–3pm | Paintings Related to the Civil Rights Movement

Gallery conversation with artist Jonathan Frost. Frost, a gallery owner and artist from  Camden, Maine, discusses the paintings he created in response to a tour of historic civil rights sites in the South. The images illustrate key episodes from the movement, including a voting rights march by black teachers and, depicted moment-by-moment in an 18-image series, the police killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
Ladd Library, First Floor

3:15–4:30pm | The Rev. Benjamin Elijah Mays ’20 Debate

This ever-popular debate with Morehouse and Bates students honors the Rev. Mays, a Bates debater, longtime president of Morehouse College and pioneer of the civil rights movement. This year’s motion: “This House Believes that Violent Resistance to State Oppression is Justified.” Free, but tickets required; please visit or call 207-786-6400. (75 min.) The event will be live streamed at
Olin Concert Hall

5–6:30pm | Dance Your Dissent

Dance workshop. Guest artist Kiki Ely, a hip-hop dancer and choreographer from Atlanta, teaches the open-level workshop “Dance Your Dissent.” Ely, who brings more than 20 years’ experience to her classes, has toured with Christina Aguilera, Ciara and Christina Milian, and has choreographed for Nelly, Ludacris and Ciara. Funded in part by a grant from the Brandow Family Endowment for the Arts. (90 min.)
Plavin Dance Studio, Merrill Gym, Second Floor

7:30pm | The Evening Program

Sankofa Presents Black Voice: The Life of Evelyn Ola Johnson
Performance. Founded by Bates students in 2010, Sankofa explores the history and diverse array of experience of the African diaspora through dance, music, theater and spoken word, and many other forms of art and expression. Sankofa’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day production has become a symbol of pride and accomplishment for the African diaspora at Bates, and an educational and diversifying experience for the entire Bates community. This year Sankofa explores black voice nationally and internationally in events linked by the theme of activism. Free, but tickets required; visit or call 207-786-8294 or 207-786-6400.
Schaeffer Theatre

Wednesday, Jan. 21

1:30–2:30pm | The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Read-In

With Bates College and Lewiston-Auburn College faculty, staff and students. Volunteers share a book with a fourth-, fifth- or sixth-grader at Martel School. Books will be given to the classrooms to keep. Cars leave the Harward Center for Martel at 1:30pm and return to campus by 2:40pm. FMI Ellen Alcorn at 207-786-8235 or